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‘Rookie Judge’ to Apple’s Legal Titans on Samsung Dispute: ‘Are you smoking crack? Sit down!’

by Lady Michelle-Jennifer Santos, Founder & Publisher

August 21, 2012 (TSR) – Apple and Samsung ongoing patent dispute has been a fruitless drama.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Kwon Oh Hyun were given a court-mandated conversation by U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh yesterday to discuss possible resolutions of their patent litigation, which is nearly in jurors’ hands.

The two companies failed to break the deadlock between them once but Judge Koh insisted the chief executives at both companies again as a last-ditch effort, saying it was “time for peace” before closing arguments begin today.

The Apple versus Samsung case is very interesting and entertaining to say the least.

Koh is not a typical judge and Apple v. Samsung is not the typical patent case.

Apple sued Samsung in 2011 for patent infringment, claiming that Samsung copied “the look and feel” of its iPad tablet and iPhone smartphone, costing it more than $2.5 billion. Samsung countersued, claiming Apple infringed on some of its patents.

The damages figure is of particular importance in the case, given that it could double or even triple depending on if Koh rules that any infringements were willful or otherwise malicious. Apple laid outs claim of $2.5 billion in Musika’s testimony near the end of its section of the case, a figure Samsung’s damages expert said was closer to $518.7 million.

But the one that deserves much merit has to be the judge. She gets to sort this headache.

Judge Lucy Koh has zero tolerance for timewasters and nonsense.

This first female Korean-American ‘rookie judge’ of 43 years old is not intimidated over these two famous and massive companies and their legion of attorneys — some with equally massive egos. With so much at stake, both sides have been trying to test the rules  and her wits, taking advantage that she belongs to the youngish side for a district judge, and not very experienced. Judge Lucy Koh has only been a federal judge for two years. Before that, she served two years as a California Superior Court Judge in Santa Clara and prior to that, she was a patent litigator. Legal experts say that it’s rare for a patent litigator to be appointed to a district judgeship. Koh handled patent and trade secret litigation for tech companies when she was a partner at McDermott Will & Emery in the mid 2000s. Some may question if she is biased, but based on her performance, all we see is a person who is not willing to put up with nonsense.

Impressively, she has not budged and kept the egos in line.

Judge Koh has zero tolerance for timewasters and she has no problem telling it like it is, with fierce honesty.

Last week for instance, the news media went into a wild frenzy because she outright  asked one of the best-known lawyers in U.S.A. if he was “smoking crack” (for our international readers: it’s drugs) for trying to book too many witnesses in its last few hours and then threatened to sanction another legal titan:

“I am not going to be running around trying to get 75 pages of briefings for people who are not going to be testifying,” U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh told Apple’s lawyer Bill Lee.

“I mean come on. 75 pages! 75 pages! You want me to do an order on 75 pages, (and) unless you’re smoking crack, you know these witnesses aren’t going to be called when you have less than four hours,” Koh said.

“Your honor, I can assure you, I’m not smoking crack,” Lee replied matter-of-factly.

When John Quinn, founder of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, one of the country’s best known law firms in America, rose to request that Koh reverse an earlier decision to exclude some of Samsung’s evidence, the two got into a heated confrontation. But the ‘rookie judge’ stood her ground, told the lawyer the issue had been covered and demanded he knock it off.

“Mr. Quinn, don’t make me sanction you, please,” Koh said. “I want you to sit down!”

The most noteworthy evidence in the case has been the internal e-mail threads and if they were to be disclosed it would certainly be damning to both companies. On Apple’s side, it would be the exchanges between executives talking about designs, as well as a thread about a 7-inch version of the iPad. For Samsung, it would be the meeting notes citing a “crisis of design” as well as indications the company had been told by Google to make its products less similar to Apple’s.

But Koh told Apple yesterday that she would be siding with Samsung over a retaliatory filing that would require her to tell jurors that both companies failed to retain e-mails (and other documents that might be critical to the case), Apple agreed to the idea, and thus both companies struck a deal to keep the emails private.

Upon the conclusion of counsels’ closing arguments today, the nine-person jury will receive a 100-page deliberation instruction document, which is expected to take a couple of hours to read.

Jurors will also receive a 21-page tentative verdict form from which they must pick which devices from either side infringe on various patents, a document that Koh is concerned will confuse jurors because it was “so complex.”

“I am worried we might have a seriously confused jury here,” Koh told legal counsel from both companies yesterday. “I have trouble understanding this, and I have spent a little more time with this than they have.”

Both sides want damages, ranging from millions to billions of dollars. If Apple wins, the company will want the court to force Samsung to cease the sale in the United States of the infringing phones and tablets.

One thing is for certain, the egos in the courtroom will have to behave until this case is over because you don’t want to mess with the noble Asian female tiger.

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