Apple's been going pretty hard for the last 9 months or so in its litigious pursuit of Android manufacturers, particularly Samsung, Motorola and HTC. While their previous strategy seemed to be based around all-or-nothing sales bans (in Germany, Australia, the United States, and, and, and...) it looks like the Cupertino lawyers may have finally come to their senses, and are preparing to settle. What do they want, short of outright suing their competition to death? Oh not much - just up to $15 for every Android phone and tablet.
The Dow Jones reports that in multiple current suits between Apple and both Samsung and Motorola, the company is seeking between 1% and 2.5% in "royalties" per device sold, or a flat fee between $5 and $15. It should be noted that this sort of thing has a precedent even in Android circles: Microsoft reportedly makes $5 on every device that HTC sells. While these punishments are extreme, they're not impossible.
In the simplest terms, Apple wants to make sure it makes money even on its competitor's devices. That's similar enough to how licensing deals work, and in fact this may be what they have in mind - normally a licensee will pay a flat or annual fee to a patent holder in order to use its ideas. But asking for this much seems a lot like protection money. "Pay us enough money to cut your profits in half, and we'll allow you to continue to operate."
Whether or not Samsung or Motorola would take the deal is somewhat up in the air. Samsung in particular has had good fortune defending from Apple's tablet-based IP assualt, engineering around a ban in Germany and overturning one in Australia. Getting Apple's dogs out of their hair might be worth it though, especially if there's a set limit on the amount of time that the punishment is enforced.