A Samsung phone (R) and an iPhone 4. (L).
A Samsung phone (R) and an iPhone 4. (L). - 
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Apple and Samsung make up close to half of the smartphone market, and they’ve been locked in a series of bitter patent disputes. A ruling on one of those battles is expected from the U.S. International Trade Commission Thursday. It's about tablets and whether Samsung copied Apple's iPad. Apple wants to ban the sale of Samsung tablets in the U.S.   

From the design, to the technology that makes a phone work, there’s plenty for mobile developers to fight about. Van Baker, a tech analyst with Gartner, says patent disputes are usually settled out of court.                

“But this has not been the case with Apple and Samsung,” Baker says.                

Instead, they’ve taken turns suing each other. And where has it gotten them? Baker says Apple’s won some, and Samsung’s won others.

Samsung recently won a ban on certain older Apple products. President Obama must decide soon whether to overturn that decision.                

Either way, IHS analyst Francis Sideco says it’s not a great way to resolve disputes. New products often hit the market before challenges to old ones make it through the legal process.                

“It’s not really the way you want to win a market,” he say. “You want to win the market with really good products that the consumers are voting with their pocketbooks for.”      

Whatever the decision on the latest skirmish, both companies will have to keep fighting for consumers, if they want to win the war.