The World’s two biggest smartphone manufacturers, Apple and Samsung, have been fighting a very public patent war in the US courts, finally this week agreeing to drop litigation from territories outside of the US. Apple first sued Samsung in 2011 for alleged copyright breaches on the iPhone, Samsung then counter-sued in regions including South Korea, Japan, Australia, Germany, France and the UK. Although both sides have agreed to drop their legal action in regions outside of the US, the case is still on-going in US courts. “Apple and Samsung have agreed to drop all litigation between the two companies outside of the United States” a statement said “This agreement does not involve any licensing arrangements and the companies are continuing to pursue the existing cases in US courts.” Earlier this year Apple won two jury verdicts in a California court claiming that Samsung had copied features of the iPhone. But the latest trial in May only awarded them $119 million, a mere chip off of the $2.2bn Apple sought. For small businesses there is a lesson to be learned here. However descriptive a patent application is, it may be interpreted in many different ways. If very minor changes can be made to a patented product to make it appear different then patent-holders run the risk of ending up in similar court battles. Any vague language in the original patent can be preyed upon by competitors, so getting a good patent lawyer to handle the application is incredibly important. As for Apple and Samsung, the legal bills are spiraling out of control and it appears that this latest truce is proving to show that the only real winner here will be the lawyers.