Samsung Electronics and Apple have agreed to drop all patent litigation outside the US, scaling down a protracted legal battle between the smartphone rivals. 

The iPhone and Galaxy handset makers issued nearly identical statements announcing the global ceasefire while vowing to pursue ongoing litigation in the US.

Analysts say the US case involves much bigger amounts of potential damages. 

The South Korean and US tech giants declined to disclose the terms of the deal but said it did not involve "any licensing arrangements and the companies are continuing to pursue the existing cases in US courts." 

The agreement ends patent disputes in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain and the UK, countries where the smartphone market leaders had engaged armies of lawyers for what analysts said were questionable gains. 

Apple and Samsung together dominate the global smartphone market with a combined market share of 37.1% in the second quarter of 2014, according to Strategy Analytics. 

Their legal battle began in the US in 2011 when Apple first filed a suit alleging Samsung "slavishly" copied elements of its iPhones, the device which launched the industry. 

Days after the initial Apple suit was launched in the US, Samsung sued its California-based rival in South Korea, Japan and Germany, kicking off a series of tit-for-tat cases that spread around the world. 

The litigation raged even as business flourished between the two technology companies, with Apple depending heavily on Samsung for components such as chips and liquid crystal displays. 

An industry source familiar with the matter told Reuters the companies "decided that there was no merit in dragging on these lawsuits". 

In the US, Samsung is appealing the result of a blockbuster 2012 trial, seeking to undo $930m in damages. While Apple says those damages should stand, the iPhone maker last week withdrew its request for a permanent sales ban against several older Samsung phones, according to court filings. 

Separately, Apple went to trial against Samsung on a second batch of patents earlier this year and won a $120m verdict. Apple still has a request pending for a sales ban against newer Samsung phones in those proceedings. 

On another front, Samsung is fighting Microsoft over allegations it refused to make a royalty payment last year on patent licences after the US company announced plans to acquire Nokia's handset business. 

Meanwhile, Apple and Google's Motorola Mobility unit agreed in May to settle all patent litigation between them over smartphones. 

Apple and companies that make phones using Google's Android software, such as Samsung's top-selling Galaxy series, have filed dozens of such lawsuits against one another around the world to protect their technology.