To prove her point, Koh, in a dramatic display, held up the iPad and Galaxy Tab above her head and asked Samsung’s counsel to distinguish the gadgets. The lawyers struggled to get it right.
“Apple’s interest in enforcing its patent rights is particularly strong because it has presented a strong case on the merits,” Koh wrote.
Days later, she added another injunction on Galaxy Nexus smartphones, though a federal appeals court in early July lifted that sales ban.
Samsung called the decision “unfortunate” and vowed to fight back in courts. Samsung and Apple declined to comment for this story.
Some legal experts say Koh does not necessarily favor Apple. She has also demanded top company executives work out their differences in a settlement, which she believes is preferable to court decisions that can wind their way through the appeals process, observers of the case say. Apple chief executive Tim Cook has begun meeting with Samsung executives, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are private.
“Judge Koh might reasonably bear the brunt of public criticism, but . . . this is really a bigger indictment of the patent system,” said Mark Lemley, a professor at Stanford Law School.
Lemley estimates smartphone companies have doled out $600 million to $700 million in legal fees over patent disputes. They have spent between $15 billlion and $20 billion on massive patent acquisitions that allow the richest firms to leapfrog competitors by buying up inventions.
Silicon Valley firms have become too eager to sue for their business interests, U.S. Appeals Court Judge Richard Posner has said. In June, he threw out Apple’s suit against Motorola on smartphone patents. He rejected Apple’s request for an injunction on Motorola smartphone sales, calling the infringements “minor-seeming” and claims of harm “implausible.”
Koh declined to comment for this story. Those who know her said she prefers staying out of the spotlight, despite the high-profile nature of the case before her.
At Harvard Law School, the hardworking student preferred to quietly soak up lessons from the back seats of class.
“Way back,” she said with emphasis in a 2007 interview.