SAN JOSE, Calif. — Ironically enough, there are too many phones in the courtroom where the Apple v. Samsung patent infringement trial is being held.
"We have a problem here," said Judge Lucy H. Koh forcefully, after the jury left the room for an afternoon break on April 4. "I can't do my job. I can't get a transcript here," she said, pointing in frustration at her terminal.
Apparently the WiFi system the court uses, among other things, to connect the real-time trial transcript with the judge's monitor was swamped by interference. Koh asked everyone in the audience of the courtroom who was using a phone to stand; more than a dozen observers stood in a tense moment.
Koh asked the phone users if they needed the connection as part of their jobs in the courtroom. A few reporters on one side of the room reserved for media raised their hands, some using personal cellular WiFi hotspots.
Users on the other side of the room agreed to turn their phones off. Koh said she had been watching the audience and noticed what looked like several of them "scrolling through email."
"If I see anyone who is just Facebook-ing I will ask them to step outside -- you can go to the overflow room," she said, adding that, if she could not access the live transcript after the recess, "we will do like Superior Court, and all electronic devices will remain downstairs."
After the break, few observers returned to the courtroom. Koh appeared to have no further trouble with her monitor.