updated 03:22 am EDT, Tue May 8, 2012
Ordered to produce a one-page summary
A US-based International Trade Commission (ITC) judge has accused Apple of trying to get around a page-count limit in court filings in its dispute with Samsung and has struck some 3,000 pages of patent analysis the company produced. Instead, according to Administrative Law Judge E. James Gildea, Apple must submit a one-page table of its invalidity contentions as contained in the ITC rules by the end of business today (Tuesday).
The ruling came in the first of the two cases to be examined, Samsung's patent complaint against Apple. The Cupertino company had hoped to include the 3,000 pages of "limitations" (an element of a patent claim) as an attachment to its filing showing that Samsung's complaints were invalid, reports legal observer Florian Mueller, but the judge ruled that such invalidity analysis must be part of the pre-hearing brief itself rather than an add-on, thus requiring the one-page summary.
Bypassing page limits with attachments is not allowed under ITC rules, and other companies (such as Microsoft) have gotten dinged on the requirements before. Despite Microsoft's page-count violation, it eventually succeeded in its complaint against Motorola Mobility late last year.
Apple is hoping to show through detailed examples of prior art that Samsung's patent claims against it are invalid, and that it is abusing patents that are essential to various standards and thus should not be contestable. It will now have to re-file the analysis showing only the names of the inventors or authors of prior art in a table, and will undoubtedly have to cut down the claims to only the most important, as it now has to fit on a single page. For it's part, Samsung was able to produce a one-page chart of its own claims in accordance with the same rule.
A mistake like this one may cost Apple in the very high-stakes case before the ITC, as judges there have the power to issue import bans and even cease-and-desist orders on products they find to be in violation. In late July, the ITC agreed to examine Samsung's claims that several of Apple's iOS products violate their patents, while a few days later it also agreed to take on Apple's relatively similar complaint about Samsung's products. Apple has said the South Korean company "slavishly" copies the iPhone and iPad along with a number of software elements in its products.
Because ITC cases are generally resolved more quickly than conventional IP court cases, the decisions of the ITC can be used to force a settlement or bring lawsuits to a speedier end. Both companies are hoping to raise the stakes high enough that the other will be forced to settle, though Apple has shown no indication of being willing to reach an agreement with Samsung, its main rival in the smartphone arena. [via Florian Mueller]