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US judge orders Apple, Samsung CEOs to get a room

Patent battle ideally needs to end before heat death of universe

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A US court has sent Apple and Samsung CEOs into settlement talks to sort out their patent disputes or at least limit the number of wrangles.

The two mobile tech rivals said in a joint court filing that they were both willing to participate in the peace summit, where chief executives Tim Cook and Choi Gee-sung, along with their lawyers, will try to thrash out their differences.

The talks are about settling issues, but the paperwork refers more to "limiting" what comes to trial rather than an outright agreement to end the case entirely. The filing stated:

The parties are evaluating whether to request summary judgment on any issue, and if either decides to file a dispositive motion, the parties will list in the next Case Management Conference Statement the grounds for any such motion. With rebuttal expert reports due today, the parties expect that after the completion of expert discovery and the narrowing of the case through the meet and confer process, which already has begun, they will be in a better position to narrow the summary judgment issues as well.

In particular the warring firms will figure out whether they want to bring all the patents they've listed so far to trial or agree to dump some, and whether they will file motions to disallow each other's expert testimony or not.

As the companies prepared for the confab, Apple intended to challenge the admissibility of some testimony that it says wasn't filed in time or uses new arguments that hadn't been disclosed before.

Samsung hadn't decided whether to file motions on Apple's experts yet, but it reserved the right to do so on the same grounds as the fruity firm listed. The South Korean company was also complaining that a lot of Apple's expert testimony was opinion rather than fact:

For example, one of Apple’s experts opines on the “cultural significance of Apple design” — a topic not at issue in this action and his report is replete with his personal subjective opinions, such as “Apple’s attention to design allows people a feeling of symbiosis with their electronic tools, creating a feeling that one’s device is an extension of oneself” and anecdotes about his vacation in Spain. Another Apple expert opines about the fact that “Apple is “known for design”, and has “design in Apple’s DNA”, again, testimony that is not “expert” in any sense.

However, Samsung said that it hoped that the current talks would render a lot of this moot. In summary, both companies want to throw out a number of each other's arguments and end up with fewer but stronger points to make in court:

Each party is committed to reviewing its claims and potential witnesses and continuing to meet and confer next week. The parties plan to submit weekly reports to the Court each Monday prior to the May 2 conference reflecting the progress made to date. Because expert discovery is scheduled to end on April 27, 2012, the parties jointly request until April 30 to file our joint Case Management Conference Statement setting forth the result of this process, in advance of the May 2nd Case Management Conference.

The arrival of Apple's Cook and Samsung's Choi on the scene could lead to some meaningful compromises, although given the companies' aggressive patent stances so far, El Reg isn't hold its collective breath. ®

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