updated 02:00 pm EDT, Wed August 15, 2012
Both companies agree to Koh's request, seek settlement
Two days after further narrowing the case between Apple and Samsung by removing three Samsung phones that aren't sold in the US from consideration for infringement and damages, US District Judge Lucy Koh has opted for a last-ditch request to try and settle the case. Today, she requested that both Apple's and Samsung's CEOs meet once again to try and resolve differences before the trial winds down and the competing claims are handed to the jury.
Both Tim Cook and his Samsung counterpart Choi Gee-sung have met previously, most recently last month in another court-ordered mediation session, but could not come to an agreement on fundamental issues. "If you [both] can have your CEOs have one last conversation, I'd appreciate it," the judge told lawyers for both parties, though she stressed that the last-chance talks were due to the great risks faced by both companies if they fail to win, not to try and avoid the case going to the jury. "I don't mean to waste their time," she said.
Samsung will be presenting its final witnesses this week, with each side planning a two-hour closing argument next week before the jury begins deliberations. Koh said that she suspected that neither side would get a clear-cut win, and asked both companies to further narrow their claims to give the jury less complexity to wrestle with.
Both Apple and Samsung have agreed to the judge's request for another executive-level meeting to try and resolve at least some differences. Apple has generally been seen to have a strong case that Samsung infringed on some of its design and software patents as well as "trade dress" issues, but Samsung has fired back with some evidence that undermines the originality of some of Apple's claims, a strong denial that the company intended to infringe, and charges of its own that Apple has infringed on some of its own patents. Now that the majority of the evidence either side has on the other has already been presented, the willingness of one or the other company to settle some claims may be further enhanced.
Koh noted that both companies had done a good job of raising awareness of their various intellectual property issues. Currently Apple's claim is that 17 of Samsung's devices, including both smartphones and tablets, infringe on four software and design patents and a number of "trade dress" claims. Samsung has claimed that Apple is infringing on two of its own patents.
Both companies are seeking US product bans and monetary damages, and risk having to recall products and redesign if they lose their patent challenges, depending on the rulings. Koh referred to the complexity of the case, which has already been narrowed several times, as "overreaching" and encouraged further narrowing but said it was up to the parties to streamline the case further.