The wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the U.S., made a perhaps long-overdue appearance in the high-stakes patent infringement battle between Apple and Samsung.
U.S. District Court Judge Paul Grewal implored lawyers representing each company to take heed of Lincoln's words and find middle ground on some of the issues they spend hours arguing about in front of the court.
"Before he spoke of houses divided, proclaimed emancipation and saved our union, Abraham Lincoln was just another trial lawyer in the woods of Illinois. A decade before he was elected president, Lincoln wrote to his fellow lawyers: 'Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker, the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough,'" Grewal wrote in an order issued Wednesday to set the date and time for a meeting Thursday.
"Thinking further about yesterday's hearing, the undersigned can only wonder at how often Lincoln's advice about compromise has been ignored in this case. However quaint or naive it may sound today, it is still advice worth taking."
Grewal was referring to a hearing Tuesday at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose. It was in preparation for a Thursday afternoon session in front of the same court to hear motions for dismissal of some claims in the case.
The case is a second lawsuit filed by Apple against Samsung over smartphone patent infringement. It's scheduled to go before a jury in March and is different from one that has so far seen Apple awarded damages of around US$930 million.
"Accusations of false statements, intentional withholdings, ambushes, and detachments from reality passed as easily as small talk about the weather. There was no indication that either side's counsel meaningfully considered any compromise whatsoever in their purported meet-and-confer," he wrote.
"And so counsel shall try again. This court would be truly astounded if attorneys of this caliber were incapable of reaching a compromise to resolve at least some of the challenges now before the court."
Grewal has ordered lawyers for both sides to meet in his jury room at 8:30 a.m. Thursday to confer on the case and try to come to agreement on some of the smaller issues each side is expected to argue.
The court has been here before.
Grewal's note comes almost exactly a year after Judge Lucy Koh told Apple and Samsung that "global peace" was needed in the Apple v. Samsung fight, which was simultaneously being fought in courtrooms in other countries.
"When is this case going to resolve?" she asked lawyers in court on Dec. 7, 2012. "This is not a joke; I'm being serious."
Fast forward 12 months and the court has spent hundreds of hours in 2013 handling the two cases -- and it's far from over.
While preparations continue for the March jury trial in the second case, appeals on the first case are only just getting off the ground.
Last week, Apple revealed it has already spent $60 million fighting the first case alone.
The cases are 11-01846 and 12-00360, Apple v. Samsung, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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