As she did in the first Apple vs. Samsung patent trial
, Judge Lucy Koh is again requiring
the companies to narrow their claims and limit the scope of their arguments against each other as both firms prepare for a second patent trial
on different patent infringement arguments than those in the first trial, which Apple won handily
but is currently on appeal. The order, which was issued late on Wednesday, comes ahead of some possible summary judgement rulings
that could leave either Apple or Samsung with fewer patents to argue over.
The summary judgement rulings are expected to take place in December of this year, with the full trial (assuming matters proceed to that stage) scheduled to start at the end of March, 2014. In a previous order, Judge Koh limited both companies to ten claims total from as many as five different patents per side for the summary judgement hearing. The new ruling
sets a time limit of February 6, well past the summary judgement phase (in which, presumably, some patents from either company may be tossed out of the case or invalidated) further narrows the limitation for the actual trial to five claims per side.
As trial and patent law analyst Florian Mueller
observes, this means that which ever company prevails during the summary judgement hearings will be able to assert a greater number of patents within their allotted five claims, giving them a better chance of overall success. The order also limits accused products to 10 per side at present, though Apple may still prevail with its proposal to simply allow "representative" products to be specifically accused, with similar products being included if the representative one is found guilty of infringement. Given Koh's procedures in the last trial, this proposal stands a good chance of eventually being adopted, as it simplifies the work of the jury.
In addition, the new order limits each company's "invalidity" arguments (reasons why the other company's patents may be invalid) to 15 per side. This would mean that if a company asserted five patents at the trial, the average number of theories the other company could present about why the patents may be invalid would average three per patent. According to Mueller, the trial in March is expected to run only 12 days, and thus both companies can expect to face further limits as they did in the first trial, on matters such as the number of "expert" witnesses and how long each side is allowed to question witnesses.