I got a little heat from a post I did wondering what would happen if criminal trials plodded along at the pace of patent litigation in this country. Some of the heat was understandable, but the point I tried to make – and sharpen in my comments - remains: the glacial pace of Apple’s IP defense is perpetuating the open season enjoyed by its competitors in ripping it off. My rant was based on Apple’s current case in California against Samsung, the company that serves as the most egregious example.
When we last left our heroes, they were being asked to partner with their adversaries in paring down the claims so that they could have their day in court in July, as opposed to the not-so-veiled threat of a 2013 trial that would allow Sammy to mock Apple’s innovations for another year.
Instead of conceding a 2013 date, which of course Samsung still maintains is necessary for a trial of this scope, Apple dropped half of its claims, including all of its trademark claims. Samsung, meanwhile, narrowed its “claims” from 12 to 7, or in Samsung’s words “42% of its
fluff pulled from the filing cabinet marked ‘kevlar’ affirmative counterclaims.”
Florian Mueller has an excellent state of the case as it stands, including this nugget that sounds a lot like what I’ve been saying:
Samsung asserts a combination of allegedly standard-essential patents that Apple may infringe, but only if they’re standard-essential, and non-standard-essential patents that appear weak to me at this stage. Samsung’s counterclaims are underwhelming. They’re the kind of counterclaims someone brings only for the sake of bringing counterclaims, which is why it’s far easier for Samsung to drop a number of them (Samsung now proposed to withdraw 5 of its 12 technical patents). When Samsung countersued Apple over such a long list of patents, it knew that the case would be narrowed.
It remains to be seen whether this lightened load will be enough to persuade Judge Koh that the case can be processed by the frail capacities of potential jurors in July, but it does show Apple is so serious about defending its IP in the near term that its willing to skinny the docket at the expense of their case.