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Apple, Samsung Face Hurdles in Patent Suits, Judge Says

Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), which sued each other in a German court over technology used in tablets and mobile phones, both face hurdles in showing the patents they assert cover the methods used, a judge said.

Samsung sued Apple over mathematical coding procedures in processors. Apple sued Samsung over features for unlocking touch screens. Each may have trouble showing the other is violating the patents, Presiding Judge Andreas Voss in Mannheim, Germany, said today at two hearings.

“What you call an ingenious mathematical solution doesn’t seem to be reflected in the patent,” Voss told Samsung’s lawyers. To Apple’s he said, “Your patent speaks of a displayed pre-determined path on the touch screen, but where’s that displayed in the Samsung devices?”

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, and Samsung, the world’s largest maker of mobile phones, are clashing in German courts over smartphone devices. Apple, the world’s largest technology company, won a temporary ruling earlier this year banning sales ban of its competitor’s Galaxy 10.1 tablet, invoking a design right.

Both will also meet next week when a Dusseldorf appeals court hears the Galaxy 10.1 tablet case. A lower court is scheduled to hear another suit by Apple seeking a ban on sales of a Galaxy tablet model.

Qualcomm Processors

Samsung told the court today that it didn’t want its suit to extend to Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) processors. Apple reacted by asking the court to consider that move as dropping part of the suit. The court hasn’t decided on that motion.

Earlier today Samsung expanded its suit by introducing two additional patents into the case. The court decided to handle them separately as two additional cases.

Apple may not be in violation of Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung’s patents because its devices read numbers from a table to get the same coding effects, Voss said, adding that the Samsung patent speaks about “generating” a code.

Apple’s patent protects screen saver designs that are used to unlock devices. Voss said the patent requires that the design follow a path that is displayed. Holding up a Samsung Tablet 1, the judge said the device uses two triangles that need to be connected by a swipe and no pre-determined path for that is displayed.

“Apple argues that those two points are the start and the finish so they are determining such a path,” he said. “Well, that’s like pointing from the parking lot at the start of a hiking trial to the top of a mountain and saying: now you know your hiking path, because you know the start and finish.”

The court scheduled a ruling in Samsung’s suit for March 2 and in Apple’s suit for Feb. 17.

Today’s cases are LG Mannheim 7 O 326/11 (Samsung v. Apple) and 7 0 247/11 (Apple v. Samsung).

To contact the reporter on this story: Karin Matussek in Mannheim vi kmatussek@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@Bloomberg.net.

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