Apple & Samsung told to talk out their problems

The judge hearing the intellectual property case between Apple and Samsung has pleaded with the two firms to make one last attempt at reaching a settlement. Lucy Koh (pictured) warned both sides that letting a jury decide was effectively a crapshoot.

As we’ve previously covered, this is one of the rare cases where one of the numerous patent disputes in the smartphone and tablet industry has got as far as a full jury trial. It took on added significance with the recent publication of figures showing not only that Android and iOS now utterly dominate the smartphone market (with a combined share of 85 percent of all new sales), but that Samsung is a strong number one when it comes to individual manufacturers.

Having previously urged the two sides to settle before the case even began, Koh’s mood wasn’t improved by the start of the hearing. She ruled that Samsung should not be allowed to submit what it called key evidence because it had left it too late for Apple lawyers to get a fair shot at looking through it.

Samsung then mentioned this in a press statement and answered journalist questions by explaining exactly what evidence had been barred. Koh was reportedly “livid” about this as she believed jurors might read the press reports and make the barring of the evidence pointless, though Samsung argued that the documents involved had already been covered in the media.

The trial itself has seen the two sides stick to their stories as expected. Apple has mainly argued that devices such as the iPad and Galaxy Tab are so similar as to constitute a design violation. Samsung has countered with arguments that it started some of the design work before ever seeing the iPad and, for example, chose a 10.1″ screen because it offered the best balance of cost, portability and usability.

Koh has now told lawyers for both sides that she wants them to talk on the phone at least once to try to reach a deal before the jury begins deliberation. She warned that although each side had made its case, it could still be a gamble to let ordinary members of the public decide on intellectual property issues: “I see risks here for both sides.”

Her suggestion may not just be a well-meaning hope for both sides to get justice. Koh may instead have concluded that even if a jury renders a verdict, there’s a good shot the loser will simply take it to appeal and draw the often tedious process out even further.

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