Saturday, April 28, 2012

Apple and Samsung CEOs to meet on May 21 and 22 for settlement talks in San Francisco court

On April 17, I already reported on the fact that Apple and Samsung agreed, under soft pressure from Judge Lucy Koh of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, to meet for court-moderated settlement talks at the level of the CEOs and their chief lawyers. Judge Koh wanted the parties to meet within 90 days. The judge who will oversee this settlement effort, Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero, has now scheduled this settlement conference for May 21-22, 2012, starting on each day at 9:30 AM.

The meetings will take place in a San Francisco courthouse, while the litigation itself is before the San Jose division of the court. With Oracle v. Google, it was just the opposite: the case is currently being tried in San Francisco, but court-ordered settlement talks took place in San Jose. It makes sense to have parties discuss settlement in front of a judge who is not personally involved with the lawsuit. For example, one of the things Magistrate Judge Spero wants the parties to do is to provide a settlement statement until May 9 including, among other things, "a candid evaluation of the parties' likelihood of prevailing on the claims and defenses" [emphasis NOT mine]. I think this is wishful thinking because the parties won't really say that any of their claims are legally weak, no matter in front of whom these talks take place, but there's no way they would ever express even the slightest skepticism over any of their claims in front of a judge involved with the actual litigation.

These parties have disputes pending in ten countries. For a long time I said that they were suing each other in nine countries and also had a purely defensive Samsung action (against several Apple design-related rights) pending in Spain -- but in a recent filng I saw that on February 27, 2012, Apple sued Samsung in the Community Designs Court of the European Union in Alicante, Spain, for infringement, apparently seeking a decision of Europe-wide effect with respect to its design-related rights. The Alicante court has the authority to impose a Europe-wide ban on products infringing Community designs (EU-wide design rights) even on a Korean company like Samsung Electronics Ltd. (and not only on its local subsidiaries) regardless of whether or not the worldwide parent company of the Samsung Electronics group is considered to have "establishments" in a given European country, an issue that was disputed between the parties in Düsseldorf, Germany. Anyway, with Apple's infringement action in Spain, it's a fact that offensive lawsuits between the two players are now pending in ten countries, but by another count, the number is actually -- don't be shocked -- 31. Here's why: Apple's lawsuit in Alicante will relate to the entire European Union, which currently has 27 member states. Previously, there were infringement lawsuits in five of those countries (Germany, UK, France, Italy, Netherlands) and in four non-EU countries (United States, Japan, South Korea, Australia). 27 EU member states + 4 non-EU-member-states = 31.

The next post will list more than 50 lawsuits the parties have filed against each other in little more than a year.

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