Apple, Samsung ordered to reduce patent claims against each other

8th May 2012 | 19:32

Apple, Samsung ordered to reduce patent claims against each other

The judge is looking out for the jury

Apple announced that it is willing to drop about half of its claims against Samsung in the California court on May 7, including ones that concern its devices' status bars, touchscreen shielding and body styles.

Samsung, meanwhile, has gone back on five of its 12 patent filings, including some related to mobile networks and world time displaying technologies.

California's Judge Lucy Koh ordered both companies last week to reduce the scope of their cases against one another, deeming the size of each side's filings "cruel and unusual punishment to a jury."

Jack Lerner, a USC Law School professor specializing in intellectual property law, said it's not uncommon for "excessive" cases to be trimmed down so a jury can handle them.

"But it is not very common," he said.

The companies complied yesterday, but that doesn't necessarily mean things will go more smoothly.

"The judge presiding over the case said each side's filings are 'cruel and unusual punishment to a jury.'"

Apple's gripe with Samsung

Apple and Samsung's rivalry springs from a suit brought by Apple in April 2011 alleging Samsung's devices copy the "look and feel" of Apple's iPhone and iPad products.

Neither that nor Samsung's countersuits in courts across the U.S., Germany, South Korea, Japan, and Australia stopped Samsung's Galaxy line of Android-powered tablets and phones from gaining in popularity recently.

There's a slim chance that peace between the two could be close, as Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung Vice Chairman Gee-Sung Choi are scheduled to speak face to face on May 21 and 22 about settling their differences.

But given Judge Koh's measures to prepare the case to go to trial and be heard by a jury, the court isn't putting much faith in the leaders' ability to make amends.

Lerner said Judge Koh's reaction could be indicative of a greater issue facing patent laws today.

"It cannot be good for innovation to have patents so broad and complex that they are almost impossible to try," he said. "Imagine being a startup and having those patents asserted against you."

The Apple doesn't fall far

Cook said previously to investors that he "hates litigation" and "just wants people to invent their own stuff" rather than copying Apple's designs.

Despite Apple's compliance with Koh's recent order, the company's representatives reportedly stated that they feel the reduction of their claims is unnecessary and invalid.

"Obviously, Apple is not willing and should not be required to waive any right to a jury trial on claims and defenses that arise from Samsung's continued assertion of patents that Samsung contends are essential to practice the UMTS telecommunication standard," the company wrote yesterday.

Outside the California court, The International Trade Commission (ITC) announced yesterday that they're disregarding a 3,000 page attachment that Apple added to their case there against Samsung.

ITC Judge E. James Gildea reportedly called the number of pages "unacceptable" and gave Apple one day to consolidate their content into a single page.

TechRadar contacted Samsung and Apple for comment, so check back for updates.

Via CNET

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