Judge orders Apple and Samsung to narrow patent cases
US judge Lucy Koh threatens trial delay until 2013, if the two companies do not reduce the number of complaints
Published: 4 May, 2012
Apple and Samsung have been given until Monday to narrow down the number of claims each is making in their patent lawsuits filed in California, with Judge Lucy Koh saying it would be "cruel and unusual punishment" for the jury to have to hear all the complaints. Koh is showing little tolerance for the two giants' massively complex set of filings and counter-filings, and recently ordered the CEOs of both firms to meet for settlement talks, now set for May 21-22.
If they fail, the trial should start on July 30. According to PCWorld, Apple and Samsung have each offered to drop certain claims from the case in the US District Court of North California, but a lack of cooperation still left 16 patents, six trademarks, five 'trade dress' claims, and an antitrust case. "I think that's cruel and unusual punishment to a jury, so I'm not willing to do it," Koh said. "If you're going to trial in July, this is not going to be acceptable."
Koh suggested that, if the companies don't present a more manageable list of issues, the trial date could be delayed until next year. Both companies are seeking injunctions and damages in complaints centered on their key product ranges, notably the iPhone and iPad versus the Galaxy family of handsets and tablets.
Apple and Samsung have trials ongoing or pending in 10 countries and three continents, totalling over 50 complaints and including broader actions at the US ITC and the European Commission. Neither has dealt the other a decisive blow yet, and even a couple of early preliminary injunctions against Samsung's Galaxy Tab were reversed, so the situation remains a stalemate which is increasingly frustrating investors and partners, distracting resource from innovation and breeding uncertainty for the Android community over its IPR position.
The cases have often descended into the spiteful or trivial. Apple recently filed a motion to obscure the Samsung logo on the US court's video displays and ban any statements attributed to Steve Jobs by his biographer Walter Isaacson - who wrote about Jobs' mission to destroy Android. Meanwhile, Samsung wants to exclude two Apple experts plus any "Apple related blogs and articles by non-expert newspaper reporters, regarding any assessment of Apple and Samsung and/or their products."