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California judge hauls in Samsung CEO, bigwigs for Apple to grill

Koh Choi blow joy for Cupertino in patent tussle

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Apple's lawyers have won the opportunity to give Samsung chief Gee Sung Choi the third degree in the US patent battle between the tech giants.

Californian district judge Lucy Koh has granted Apple permission to get a deposition from the CEO, but has limited it to two hours.

Courts get a say on so-called "apex" depositions because grilling the top dogs of your opponent's firms is a a tactic often used by court combatants to embarrass or annoy the other side.

Apple also asked to talk to the president of the mobile division at Samsung, Jong Kyun Shin, but the court ruled that the evidence the fruity firm put forward to support their interrogation of Shin didn't support the idea that he made any strategic design decisions.

However, the iPhone-maker will get the chance to depose four other Samsung executives, including the senior VP of advanced R&D, Seung Hwan Cho, the president and CEO of Samsung Telecommunications America (STA), Dale Sohn, and the chief financial officer of STA, Joseph Cheong, who will each be questioned for three hours.

The court also said that all the depositions have to take place before 20 April, well ahead of the trial date expected in July.

The case seems to be settling up nicely for Apple: Judge Koh also ruled on the companies' tiffs over how they define certain technical terms, with five terms going Apple's way and two for Samsung.

The nitpicking over interpretations of words like "applet" seems juvenile, but is important because of how the patents are described, and therefore how the court might rule on them.

The US case was brought by Apple last year over Samsung's Galaxy phones and tablets – and the Korean firm has since counter-sued with some of its patents.

While the case will go to trial in a few months, the Federal US Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments tomorrow over Apple's bid to get some Galaxy gear taken off the shelves, a motion that Judge Koh denied. ®

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