California judge rejects bid for longer trial in Samsung-Apple case

Apple and Samsung are set to battle over patents in front of a San Jose jury starting Monday

A federal judge in California has rejected a request by Samsung that would have doubled the length and increased the complexity of a highly anticipated trial in which the company will lock horns with Apple over smartphone and tablet PC patents.

Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, in San Jose, had previously told both sides they would be allowed no more than 25 hours to present their respective cases of patent infringement and could show no more than 125 exhibits.

Samsung filed a motion on Monday asking for double that amount of time, up to 400 exhibits per side and no limit on the number of witnesses it could call.

Koh had previously combined two cases: Apple's original lawsuit against Samsung and a countersuit filed by Samsung against Apple. In its latest motion, Samsung had argued that the case was complex and required more time in court.

Apparently frustrated, Koh reminded Samsung's attorneys that she had allowed the two cases to be combined so that Samsung wouldn't initially have to answer Apple's charges on a purely defensive basis. With the cases together, both sides would be on the offensive in a single case in front of a single jury.

"I consolidated the cases," Koh said. "If anything, I have bent over backwards so Samsung has an affirmative case. I could have put your case on a later schedule. If you, at this time, think the limits I have imposed are unfair, I will vacate your case and give you another trial date."

That second trial, which would hear only Samsung's suit against Apple, would start some time in August or September, Koh said.

"What is it that you don't know now that leads you to believe you need unlimited witnesses and 400 exhibits? What is it?" Koh asked a Samsung lawyer.

Samsung's attorneys, perhaps wisely, declined to argue any further.

"I'm frustrated," Koh told Samsung's lawyers. "I deny the motion for reconsideration on limits."

Koh has repeatedly asked both sides to narrow down their claims against each other to the simplest elements and those they feel they have the strongest chance of winning.

Tuesday's meeting was scheduled to be the last before the jury trial begins, but Koh asked the two sides to meet on Friday to discuss the use and classification of information deemed confidential. Both sides have already been taken to task for claiming too much information in their filings is secret and so not open to the public or media. Reuters filed an objection to some of the classification last week.

There remains the possibility both sides could come to an out-of-court settlement before the trial kicks off. Both sides have met in recent weeks, though they failed to find common ground.

"If you settle after 4 p.m. Friday, I'm going to celebrate," Koh said, reminding the companies they would also be liable to pay the modest jury fees for Monday.

The hearing was taking place as Apple was reporting rising sales of both iPhones and iPads in the April-to-June quarter. The company said iPhone sales hit 26 million and iPad sales soared 84 percent compared with the same period of 2011.

The case is 11-01846 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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