updated 12:41 am EDT, Sat April 26, 2014
New ruling complicates trial, may change outcomes
What had started off with all parties thinking it was the final day of testimony turned into a protracted and difficult legal exercise, as US District Court Judge Lucy Koh and attorneys for both sides wrestled with the surprise ruling from the Federal Court of Appeals, which resurrected a previously-dismissed lawsuit between Apple and Motorola that involves one of the patents being fought over in the Apple-Samsung trial.
Although technically, Judge Koh was under no obligation to adopt the new interpretation of Apple's '647 (data detectors) patent, the fact that it came from a higher court persuaded her to formulate a plan that would allow the work that had already been done on that particular patent to stand. The judge, along with both parties, decided to deal with the changed claim construction without revisiting the damages experts. Instead, the trial will add a little time for supplementary testimony and instruction to the jury on how the new ruling could affect their views, and ultimately the findings, for that patent.
Attorneys for both Apple and Samsung said they needed more time to study the ruling, which has both positive and negative connotations for each side. On the surface, the ruling appears to validate Samsung's contention that Apple is overpricing the value of its patents because Samsung is a competitor. On the other hand, the new interpretation could also diffuse Samsung's earlier defense for why it was not guilty of infringing the data detector patent.
The scheduled portion of the trial began as normal following the first of two breaks to help figure out the new court ruling and what to do about it. At the start of testimony on Friday, Apple had 37 minutes of its allotted time left, while Samsung had only 11 minutes. Picking up on its rebuttal of earlier Samsung witnesses, Apple recalled Professor Andrew Cockburn to talk about the "slide to unlock" patent.
Samsung then quickly recalled an expert witness, Martin Rinard, to continue its affirmative case that Apple had infringed on two patents owned (but not created) by Samsung, for which it is seeking $6.2 million. Both sides asked very few questions, got short answers, and rested their respective cases. Apple finished with 15 minutes to spare, while Samsung clocked out with just two minutes remaining. Each side was given a total of 25 hours of cast time, with an additional two hours for closing arguments.
The jury was then sent home for the weekend, and the rest of the day was given over to dealing with the new ruling and the issues it raised. Discussions were had over how much time each side should be given for the additional explanatory testimony (they finally settled on an hour) and whether new depositions or damages testimony would be needed (in a rare show of cooperations, both sides agreed on "no"). The judge and the attorneys also ultimately agreed that the "Posner construction" that had just been approved by the higher court didn't need to be read to the jury.
The next topic of discussion then was over which side should speak first and last in the closing arguments. Getting the last word in was very important to both sides, but ultimately it was decided that Apple would speak first on its affirmative accusations against Samsung, with Samsung defending, and then the order would be reversed for the Samsung patent counterclaims, with the Galaxy S5 maker speaking first and Apple, at the end of it all, getting the last word.
After a break, planning for Monday's new testimony resumed. Oddly, Samsung opted not to advocate for re-opening the damages discussion, calling the entire matter an opportunity for Apple to have "do-over" on the patent. Finally, it is decided that Samsung will recall UNC Professor Kevin Jeffray to give his interpretation of the ruling to the jury, with Apple recalling Carnegie-Mellon University Professor Todd Mowry to give Apple's view.
Judge Koh asked if any of the attorneys were aware of any other rulings that might come down the pike in the next week or so that could disrupt this trial, but both sides said no. There is the matter of a juror who is going on vacation on May 7, so it is in everyone's interest to have the trial finished and a verdict in hand before then. The session finished with Koh scheduling jury instructions for Monday afternoon following the new testimony, with closing arguments back to the day they were originally scheduled to happen at the start of the trial, Tuesday April 29.