Are Patent Lawsuits “Cruel and Unusual Punishment” for Jurors?

Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has again ordered Apple and Samsung Electronics to pare down the number of claims at issue in their upcoming intellectual property lawsuit. If they cannot do so, the trial will likely be delayed.

As previously discussed on this blog, Apple alleges that Samsung’s Galaxy phones and tablets infringe upon Apple patents and that Samsung unlawfully copied design and functionality elements of its iPhones and iPads. Meanwhile, Samsung alleges that Apple had violated a number of Samsung’s wireless networking patents.

Up to this point, the two sides have struggled to find common ground on any issues. In response to Koh’s first request to streamline the case, Apple and Samsung each offered to eliminate some patents and claims from the case but reported lack of cooperation from the other side prevented further action.

As reported by IDG News, the IP litigation currently involves 16 patents, six trademarks, five “trade dress” claims, and an antitrust case, with 37 products accused of violations. Google and Oracle each will have 25 hours to present their cases to a jury, which seems like an impossible task given the number of issues involved.

Judge Koh agreed. “I think that’s cruel and unusual punishment to a jury, so I’m not willing to do it,” she said. “If you’re going to trial in July, this is not going to be acceptable.” The trial may be postponed to 2013 if the two sides cannot agree on a more workable set of claims, according to Judge Koh.


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