The ongoing patent battle between the dominant smartphone providers, is about to get its prime-time drama moment, when the CEOs of Apple and Samsung will appear before a U.S, federal judge for mediation on Monday. Reuters reports that U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero has asked Apple’s Tim Cook and Samsung’s Choi Gee-sung to work out their differences as part of a court-ordered mediation. The Wall Street Journal confirms both execs will be there.
The patent battle so far has been pretty nasty with Apple accusing Samsung of “slavishly copying” its products and more recently of destroying evidence. The Reuters story explains that mediation efforts with the company’s top executives are a recent trend as judges try to encourage parties to settle by bringing in the company leaders to help defuse any tensions that might have built up between the lawyers on the case. However, if I were a CEO I’d look upon such a trend with horror, given how many disputes a large company can encounter in a given year (especially in the mobile industry).
The set up seems made for drama. From the story:
This week’s session, scheduled for two days, will take place in a federal courtroom 40 miles north of Silicon Valley, in San Francisco’s seedy Tenderloin neighborhood. It will be up to U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero — a bow-tie wearing extrovert with a reputation for handling complex cases — to corral the CEOs and their lawyers toward a settlement.
It is possible that if Spero senses animosity between the two men, he may separate them, with the judge shuttling between both sides, said one lawyer who has participated in mediations with the magistrate. In that scenario, the lawyer said, one company may have to set up camp in a room usually used for jury deliberations, while the other could be in the judge’s offices. … If Spero senses a rapport between the two men, he may opt to have them spend more time talking face to face.
Such mediations between company CEOs have occurred in recent cases including Oracle’s lawsuit over the Android operating system as well as in a patent suit between Apple and HTC. I’d love to see any of these play out on a new Silicon Valley-themed Law & Order.