Apple has come to a compromise on a hearing proposal presented by Samsung in the Sydney Federal Court in relation to the case brought against the former for alleged patent infringement in the iPhone 3GS, 4 and 4S.
Samsung last year filed the case against Apple, alleging the latter's iPhone 3GS, 4 and 4S infringed on 3G patents, breached a FRAND (Fair Reasonable and Non Discriminatory) licence and raised issues of competition law. Samsung is seeking to have the case heard as soon as possible. It was originally set to commence in March. Apple's claims it could not have its case ready in time.
Lead barrister for Apple, Stephen Burley SC, today told presiding judge, Justice Annabelle Bennett, said the vendor would be willing to start the hearing in July in relation to patent infringement, with the balance of the case to be heard throughout September.
"Your honour has heard both parties say six weeks is the estimated time for the hearing and it's not going to be heard or there isn't going to be any decision before the end of September in any event," Burley said. "So what we submit is that first week of the hearing take place in July to enable your honour to hear the evidence if that's convenient and then the balance of the trial to be completed over September.
"It may be that a little bit less time is required as matters become more refined as we move closer, but this timetable is the very best we could come up with in terms of creating a fair time for the preparation of evidence and so on."
Apple last week would not agree to the split hearing proposed by Samsung, starting in April and then to resume at some later date "no later than August", on the basis that it would create issues with overlapping witnesses and would hinder the "rigorous analysis" the case required. Apple legal counsel, Cameron Moore, then said they wished to have the case heard no sooner than September, meaning the case would likely run into 2013.
Samsung barrister, Katrina Howard SC, told the court today the matter of urgency remained as the lifecycle of the devices was still limited and that the idea of a split case was "commonplace".
"At the very least the matter should commence in July," she said. "Our position is that parties should be ready to begin on the second of July and that we should take advantage of all the dates as early as possible to finish by the end of September."
"If the case is ready by the 23rd of July I would want to start on the 9th and use that week not necessarily for witnesses," Justice Bennett said. "It will be much more efficient if I have time before we rush in to make sure I understand everything, giving me a little bit more time to ask questions and understand all the issues."
Galaxy Tab patent case
The case follows legal action Apple launched against Samsung, in which Apple alleged Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet infringes on a number of its iPad-related patents.
Justice Bennett, who is also hearing the Galaxy Tab case, today said she would not be setting a final hearing date as it was "hard to put a finger on how long the case would take", but ordered both parties come back for case management on 9 March.
Not surprisingly, Apple is keen to have the case heard as soon as possible, with Burley stating "this matter is more deserving of urgent treatment than Samsung's".
Howard vehemently opposed Apple's attempts to have the case fast-tracked, stating that of the 22 patents "at least 10 have not been raised elsewhere".
"We need until toward the end of the year to prepare evidence," she said. "This is a massive task your honour, there's no other case we know of that has been so large in Australia and Apple have not pursued so many claims and in any other country."
"We simply don't know what the final scope of the case will be."
The case continues.