The federal judge overseeing the Apple and Samsung intellectual property trial has again asked the two firms to meet privately and try to reach a settlement. Otherwise, she says, the court will be forced to issue a ruling that could damage both companies.
“I’m going to make one more request that the CEOs from both sides speak by phone,” Judge Lucy Koh informed lawyers from both companies in Federal District Court in San Jose, California, on Wednesday. “I see risks here for both sides. It’s at least worth one more try.”
“If all you wanted is to raise [the point] that you have [intellectual property] on these devices, message delivered,” she added. “In many ways, mission accomplished. It’s time for peace.”
Apple and Samsung had been sparring for over two weeks in court when the apparently exasperated judge issued her recommendation. Lawyers for both companies said they would comply. The coming private talks follow two days of in-person meetings in May between Apple CEO Tim Cook and then-Samsung CEO Choi Gee-Sung. Those talks failed to resolve any of the companies’ issues.
Although this case is just one of many legal disputes between mobile-industry firms, it’s the highest-profile case to actually make it to court. It also rests on a fairly unique argument: Rather than claim that Samsung has stolen specific patented features and technologies from its smartphones and tablets, Apple is instead claiming that Samsung has stolen the basic design of its products. Apple seeks $2.5 billion in damages.
If the trial is any indication, however, it’s unlikely that Apple and Samsung will ever see eye to eye. And the two firms seem destined for a mutually assured, damaging outcome that could harm both in future court cases. Apple is claiming ownership of a number of very common interface design elements, many of which appear on multiple competing devices, including some that predate Apple’s iPhone and iPad. That said, it’s pretty clear that Samsung’s smartphone and tablet designs mimic Apple’s products too.