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Apple-Samsung Judge Says She May Put Patent Case on Hold

Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. were asked by a federal judge to agree to freeze their smartphone patent dispute scheduled for trial next year while an appeals court reviews an August verdict in an earlier case.

“I was going to ask if we can stay this case while the other appeal is going on,” U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh said during a hearing yesterday in San Jose, California. Any possible resolution of the conflict will be “global” and cover technologies contested in both suits, Koh said. “I don’t know if we need two cases on this.”

Koh directed attorneys for both sides to file a status report by March 7 indicating whether they consent to putting the later case on hold. A lawyer for Cupertino, California-based Apple, William Lee, said there are no settlement negotiations under way in the litigation.

Both companies continued to present the patents at issue in the newer case, scheduled for trial in March 2014. The lawsuit was filed last year and covers technology in newer smartphones made by both companies, including Samsung’s Galaxy S III and Apple’s iPhone 5.

The judge last month rejected Apple’s request to add additional damages to a $1.05 billion awarded against Samsung in August by a jury that found the Suwon, South Korea-based company infringed six of the iPhone maker’s mobile-device patents.

‘Deliberate Copying’

Apple is challenging a decision by Koh that allows Samsung to continue selling some products that were found by the jury to infringe Apple patents.

In a Feb. 12 filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, Apple said that Samsung has taken market share based on its “deliberate copying of Apple’s innovative iPhone and iPad products” and asked the court to halt the sales. Samsung hasn’t filed a response, and an appeal of the August jury verdict hasn’t yet been filed with the appeals court.

Separately, both companies are appealing rulings requiring them to reveal financial information they want to keep secret. Apple calls the information its “treasured trade secrets,” consisting of data on specific products and market research on its customers. Arguments in those appeals are to be heard March 26 in Washington.

Last year’s case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., 11-cv-1846; the case scheduled for trial next year is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., 12-cv-630; both are in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

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