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Judge sighs at 'whack-a-mole' lawsuits as Apple deals blow to Samsung

Eternal patent war latest: San Jose beak's patience is wearing thin

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Apple has won an early judgment in a California court squabble over alleged patent infringement by rival Samsung.

Judge Lucy Koh has issued [PDF] a trio of summary judgments that uphold one Apple claim, deny a second, and strike down a motion by Samsung ahead of the companies' formal trial over handheld gadget technology this spring.

The case, like so many others between Apple and various Android handset makers, centers on claims that devices powered by Google's operating system use a number of technologies Apple has patented for use with its own iOS family of devices.

The Cupertino giant's latest round of claims surround patents the company holds around the use of word recommendations (US 8,074,172) when typing text on a mobile device, a claim that was upheld by Judge Koh in a summary judgment.

Additionally, Apple won summary judgment of a claim to invalidate infringement claims on patents surrounding data synching (US 7,761,414) on mobile devices.

Several other Apple claims for summary judgments in its favor were shot down by Judge Koh, as were Samsung's various claims for summary judgments.

In issuing her decision, Judge Koh also noted that lawyers from both sides have shown a propensity for monkey businesses which is wearing thin on the court.

"The court has learned through two prior trials with these parties, both in Case No. 11-CV-1846, that, given the chance, each side will continue to generate creative linguistic arguments about nearly every term in a claim in order to accuse the other side of 'ignoring the court's claim construction rulings' or 'adding limitations to the plain language of the claim'," she wrote.

"Resolving those disputes has taken on a 'whack-a-mole' character, one for which the returns have quickly diminished."

The two firms remain locked in an ongoing war of attrition over claims that each side violated the other's patents relating to the development and operation of mobile devices, including handsets and tablets. Each has asked judges in various parts of the world to block import or sale of the alleged infringing devices.

Apple has thus far claimed the closest thing to a win in the case, being awarded a $1bn decision by the courts in a 2012 decision which was later reduced after several more rounds of legal wrangling.

The two firms are set to take the remainder of this latest case to a trial which is slated to kick off in March, barring a last-minute agreement between the companies when CEOs Tim Cook and Oh-Hyun Kwon meet for a mediation session next month. ®

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