Judge won’t speed up Apple’s suit against Samsung

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Part of Apple’s recent suit against Samsung for allegedly copying many of the physical and software attributes of the iPhone won’t get fast-tracked like Apple had hoped. Earlier this month, the Cupertino, Calif.–based company moved to shorten the briefing process and proposed a schedule that puts the case in front of a jury by next February. The case schedule is still unknown, but the briefing process won’t begin on July 21, as Apple had hoped.

The main reason for the lack of haste appears to be due to the length of time that Apple and Samsung attempted to work out the issues prior to Apple filing suit. According to Florian Mueller’s FOSS Patents site, the two companies were in discussions for more than a year:

Moreover, Apple indicated at the May 12, 2011 hearing that it had been aware of its infringement claims for at least a year and engaged in negotiations with Samsung during that time. See Transcript of May 12, 2011 […] (‘there have been extended efforts . . . to resolve this problem short of litigation. . . . they’ve been going on for at least a year’). The Court agrees with Samsung that the length of time Apple has been aware of its claims and the long history of infringement alleged in the complaint undermine Apple’s claims of urgency to some extent.

In the grand scheme of the overall case, the denial to shorten or quickly get to the briefing period probably won’t have any measurable impact. And it doesn’t say anything about the likely case verdict, although it suggests that the judge doesn’t believe Apple’s business is currently so damaged by Samsung’s products that the case warrants faster action. To be honest, I don’t know of anyone who bought a Samsung product and thought they bought something from Apple, even with the obvious similarities in look and feel. And customers generally have a return period of at least 14 days for a smartphone, so if they wanted Apple and bought Samsung, there’s time to make the swap.

The talks around infringement between Apple and Samsung for at least a year reinforce the idea that Apple has been treading carefully with Samsung, likely due to its reliance upon Samsung for key device components. Apple doesn’t produce its own chips, flash memory or touchscreen displays, although it has designed the ARM-based A4 and dual-core A5 chips that power its mobile devices. It’s far too early to say how this case will be resolved, but I’d bet money that Apple is looking for other component suppliers outside Samsung where possible. Until then, Samsung will keep following an Apple-like strategy, helping it become the smartphone king.

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