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Business Briefing

Judge Seeks 'Global Peace' in Apple-Samsung Patent War

Judge Seeks
December 9, 2012 9:59AM

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"If there is any way this court can facilitate some sort of resolution, I'd like to do that," said U.S. District Judge Luch H. Koh of the ongoing patent battle between Apple and Samsung. Koh said such a resolution "would be good for consumers and good for the industry." Samsung's legal team has said it is open to a settlement, but Apple has refused.

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"I think it is time for global peace." That desire for a cessation of hostilities, possibly inspired by the holiday season, was spoken by a federal judge to lawyers from Apple and Samsung as they returned to court over their patent battle.

U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh's desire was expressed during a court hearing in San Jose on Thursday. In response to the $1.05 billion verdict against it this past summer, Samsung is seeking a new trial or a substantial reduction of the judgment, and Koh has said she would consider the company's requests. Koh has already questioned whether some of the 26 components of the total award, such as the $58 million for violation of "tap and zoom" technology, may be out of proportion.

Apple, which filed the original U.S. lawsuit in 2011 over alleged infringements of its intellectual property by Samsung, has asked that millions more be added to the award, as well as a permanent ban against the U.S. sale of more than two dozen Samsung smartphone models. The jury in the trial had determined that various Samsung smartphones were illegally using protected Apple technology.

'Compete Through the Courthouse'

Apple filed another suit earlier this year, which alleged that newer Samsung products were also infringing on its patents. That trial date is not until 2014. Meanwhile, the companies are engaged in a worldwide legal war, with suits, countersuits, trials, temporary injunctions and judgments in a variety of countries over similar issues.

Koh's request for global peace came after the two sides had presented their most recent arguments and she had asked, as she has done before, "When is this case going to resolve?"

When there were laughs in the courtroom, the judge noted that she wasn't joking, adding that, "If there is any way this court can facilitate some sort of resolution, I'd like to do that." Koh noted that such a resolution "would be good for consumers and good for the industry." Samsung's legal team has indicated it is open to discussing a settlement, but Apple has refused, calling the $1.05 billion fine "a slap on the wrist."

Apple's lawyers have also accused Samsung of "willfully" violating its protected intellectual property, while Samsung's have said Apple wants to "compete through the courthouse instead of the marketplace."

Misconduct by Jury Foreman?

In keeping with the theme of world war, Samsung's lead lawyer, Charles Verhoeven, described Apple's approach as "intentional engagement of thermonuclear war throughout the world."

In fairness to over-the-top bellicose metaphors, however, it should be noted that Verhoeven was referencing a statement attributed to Apple co-founder and CEO, the late Steve Jobs, who had said he was ready to commit $40 billion for "thermonuclear war" if necessary to prove that Google's Android platform, used in Samsung devices, copied the design and technology of Apple's iPhone.

Among the reasons for Samsung's request for a new trial is its charge of misconduct on behalf of the jury foreman, Velvin Hogan, because he did not disclose he had been sued by Seagate, for which he had previously worked in the 1990s and which has invested in Samsung.

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