SAN JOSE — Judge Lucy Koh took center stage in the Apple-Samsung patent infringement case on Friday. She arrived at the bench with the daily armful of document binders and kept her jury waiting out of her court room during an animated exchange with attorneys about a U.S. Court of Appeals decision in a separate Apple infringement case against Motorola earlier in the morning.
Testimony did conclude Friday with only 8 minutes allowed for Samsung's rebuttal case against Apple due to the agreed upon time restrictions. Still, Judge Koh decided it was too risky to ignore the appeals court's decision. It's an issue of law, she said. Judge Koh will present the appellate court's decision to the jury on Monday morning and reopen the case for subsequent two hours of additional expert witness testimony.
The court's ruling may have significant ramifications for Apple's current patent case against Samsung. At issue is the alleged Samsung infringement of a so called "quick-links" patent that describes what readers may recognize to be tantamount to the ubiquitous links embedded in text and the operation associated with the link. In Apple's case in Illinois against Motorola, Circuit Judge Richard Posner's definition of the terms "analyzer server" and "linking actions to the detected structures," which are used to describe the feature in the patent, was disputed by Apple in the appeal. The dispute boils down to whether these routines run on a server or a client. The appellate court agreed with Judge Posner who ruled that by definition the analyzer server routines run independently on a server separate from a client and are therefore not specific to the smartphone device. Judge Koh however, for the purposes of the case being tried in her court-room, sided with Apple and allowed the contrary interpretation. Significant portion of the claimed damages rely on Apple's interpretation.
Judge Koh expressed frustration with the appellate court in her morning engagement with the attorneys indicating she was not necessarily bound by the decision and wanted to avoid potentially blow up the work so far with the jury. She was also unhappy the Samsung attorneys had not asked her to define "analyzer server" for this case. By the afternoon Judge Koh had changed her tune and the parties seemed to agree with the inevitable ruling that the jury needed to see and understand the decision by the Court of Appeals. Samsung's lawyers, however, appeared at unease over the judge's decision to reopen the issue, fearing perhaps it will provide Apple a chance to play out the line and continue to reel in the big catch.
It is impossible to guess how this will play out in court on Monday and even harder to predict if there is going to be an impact on the jury's determination of infringement and damage awards. The overall case will come into sharper focus when the jury receives final instructions from Judge Koh and hears final arguments from the lead attorneys. Final arguments are now scheduled for Tuesday and deliberations are expected to start Wednesday morning.
— Magnus Thordarson is an IT consultant and freelance writer based in San Jose, Calif. With a background in industry and academia, he is a veteran of Kaiser Permanente IT and writes about all aspects of information technology and management of information systems.
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