independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Judge tackles Apple-Samsung dispute

A US judge has urged the world's largest smartphone makers to settle their differences

A US federal judge said she will issue rulings aimed at resolving a multifaceted legal battle between Apple and Samsung Electronics, urging the world's largest smartphone makers to settle their differences.

"I think it's time for global peace," US District Judge Lucy Koh told lawyers for the two electronics giants during a court hearing in San Jose.

Judge Koh appeared ready to trim a one billion US dollar (£624 million) jury verdict Apple won over Samsung this summer. She said over the next several weeks she would issue a series of rulings to address the many legal issues raised at the hearing.

Samsung is seeking a new trial or a reduction of the verdict that resulted from a lawsuit Apple filed in 2011. Apple, on the other hand, urged the judge to add millions more to the award and permanently ban the US sales of eight Samsung smartphone models a jury in August said illegally used Apple technology.

Judge Koh gave no indication on how she would rule on the sales ban request or by what amount she would cut the one billion dollar award. Samsung was demanding that she cut the award by more than half, but Judge Koh gave no hint that she sided with that argument or Apple's separate argument for an increase in the award.

Apple filed a second lawsuit earlier this year, alleging that Samsung's newer products are unfairly using Apple's technology. That is set for trial in 2014. In addition, the two companies are locked in legal battles in several other countries.

At Thursday's hearing, lawyers for each company responded by casting aspersions on the other side. Apple lawyer Harold McElhinny claimed that Samsung "wilfully" made a business decision to copy Apple's iPad and iPhone, and he called the jury's 1.05 billion dollar (£655 million) award a "slap in the wrist". Mr McElhinny said Apple intended to keep on fighting Samsung in court until it changed its business ways. In turn, Samsung lawyer Charles Verhoeven responded that Apple was attempting to "compete through the courthouse instead of the marketplace". He said Apple wants to tie up Samsung in courts around the world rather than competing with it head-on.

In the third quarter of 2012, Samsung sold 55 million smartphones to Apple's 23.6 million sales worldwide, representing 32.5% of the market for Samsung compared with Apple's 14%.

Earlier in the hearing, Judge Koh appeared ready to rework some of the jury's damage calculations. The jurors filled out a verdict form listing the amount of damages Samsung owed Apple for 26 separate products. For instance, the jurors said Samsung owed Apple nearly 58 million dollars (£36 million) for sales of its Prevail smartphone found to have used Apple's "tap-and-zoom" technology. But the type of patent violation the jury found does not lend itself to that big an award for the product, Judge Koh said, musing that it appeared that Apple could recover perhaps eight million dollars (£5 million) over the Prevail dispute.

That was just one of 26 line items Judge Koh is reviewing when it comes to considering the jury's 1.05 billion dollar verdict. Judge Koh's decision will help shape the ultimate result of the case, but this bitter legal battle is expected to land before the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the Washington, DC-based court that decides patent disputes, if not the US Supreme Court.

Press Association

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