updated 03:01 am EDT, Fri May 11, 2012
Gives company further leverage over rival
Late Wednesday evening, Judge Lucy Koh of the Northern California Circuit Court filed a decision giving Apple the right to re-file litigation in the future on any of the patent claims it will drop in its current two US cases with Samsung. The decision could have strong strategic importance to Apple, as the company will be free to continue threatening litigation on specific patent claims against Samsung. The trials are schedule to start this summer.
Judge Koh is overseeing two trials, Apple's claims against Samsung for patent infringement, and Samsung's against Apple. The decision today was in response to the two companies' reply to her request to further narrow down the current number of claims. Legal affairs reporter Florian Mueller reports that Judge Koh has taken a different approach to narrowing down her cases compared to Judge Alsop in the Google vs. Oracle trial.
Alsop opted to force Oracle to drop claims from its suit "with prejudice," meaning they can't be re-filed later, whereas Judge Koh has indicated she will further narrow the focus of the cases through motions for summary judgements wherever possible before asking the companies to drop further claims. While Apple would have preferred for the matters to be adjudicated by Judge Koh after a bench trial, Mueller says, being able to re-file them later is the next best thing -- as it gives Apple considerable leverage on those claims over Samsung as a bargaining chip for future settlements or possible ongoing litigation. Under the ruling, Apple would be able to utilize claim construction and other materials it had prepared for the current action in any future claims.
Samsung is now unable to take advantage of the dropped claims as victories that would allow it to possibly continue infringing on Apple's IP in exchange for not further obstructing the preparations for the cases, which are scheduled to start in late July. In the rulings today, Apple did lose out on the opportunity to respond to Samsung's claim-narrowing proposals. The two companies are still scheduled for settlement talks in mid-May, but appear to be further apart than ever in their positions. [via Florian Mueller]