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Judge begs Apple, Samsung to get a room, or trial will end in tears

Leave patent ruling in a jury's hands? You're having a laugh

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Judge Lucy Koh has urged Apple and Samsung to kiss and make up, and end their bitter legal battles.

Judge Koh, who is overseeing the two tech titans' iPhone patent trial in the US, asked the chief execs of Apple and Samsung to talk at least once more on the phone before the jury goes away next week to consider its verdict. Sammy is accused of copying its fruity rival's smartphone design for its own products and denies any wrongdoing.

"It's time for peace," the judge pleaded on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Before the jury returned to the court for the day's hearing, she told attorneys that both sides had succeeded in raising awareness of the importance of their patent rights - but said both companies could be in trouble if they leave the decision up to the panel of ordinary folk, who certainly aren't intellectual property experts.

"I see risks here for both sides," she added.

Once the jury filed in, Samsung continued presenting its witnesses, who claimed that the South Korean firm spent ages working on its own designs for its gear; its designers did not copy Apple; and that Apple's design patents are invalid because the features they cover are obvious and not original.

The South Koreans had yet another designer on the stand to reveal how Samsung Galaxy products were made: Jin Soo Kim talked the court through the rationale behind decisions on features of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, highlighting how cost calculations and anticipated consumer appeal drove Sammy to specify, say, the size of screen.

Samsung also produced a wireless expert, Tim Williams, to talk about how the iPhone and iPad infringe on two of Sammy's patents.

Apple once again had internal documents, this time emails between Google and Samsung in which a Google employee described the Galaxy products and Apple's iDevices as too similar.

Cupertino lawyers also quizzed Williams on the fact that the patents he said Apple infringed actually cover Intel chips, a company that Samsung has a cross-licensing deal with.

Judge Koh has tried from the start to make Apple and Samsung settle into a cross-licensing agreement that would keep both sides happy, or at least reasonably satisfied. But talks between the companies haven't brought them any closer together and it's unlikely that the courtroom sniping is endearing either side to the other.

Leaving a case like this in the hands of a jury is risky: the complexities of intellectual property law are not easy for even judges to understand, let alone juries, and the cases run the risk of becoming a popularity contest between the firms or relying on the gut feeling of the panel.

Both Samsung and Apple have played the popularity card in this case, each aiming to convince the jury that the other side is evil with motions and arguments that have had Judge Koh tearing her hair out.

The jury has also come in with its own unavoidable preconceptions based on the press coverage of Apple and Samsung patent cases worldwide and whether they themselves are fanbois or fandroids. While they will make every effort to judge the case on what they hear in the court alone, as instructed, those preconceptions can be hard to shake. ®

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