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As Apple-Samsung trial winds down, judge's patience wears thin

The epic patent trial between Apple and Samsung is coming to a close -- but both companies are racing to fit in testimony before their allotted time runs out. Samsung rested its case on Thursday, asking for $421.8 million from Apple; Apple countered by calling witnesses who doubted Samsung's claims.

By / August 17, 2012

The patent trial between Apple and Samsung is winding down; both companies have asked for damages from each other. In this courtroom sketch, Apple lawyer Harold McElhinny (center) examines Apple design chief Scott Forstall as US District Judge Lucy Koh looks on.

Vicki Behringer/Reuters

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The biggest trial in tech is drawing to a close: Samsung rested its case on Thursday, asking that Apple pay up to $421.8 million if things are settled in Samsung's favor. Samsung's claiming that Apple ripped it off on three patents relating to email, photos, and music -- although the bulk of the case revolves around Apple's claims that Samsung infringed on its intellectual property.

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Jeff began writing for the Monitor's Horizons blog in 2011, covering product news and rumors, innovations from companies like Apple and Google, and developments in tech policy.

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Samsung's damages request pales in comparison to what Apple is seeking against Samsung: $2.45 billion in lost profits for all the Samsung hardware it claims infringes on its patents. US patent law states that a patent owner is entitled to all the profits that an infringer gets -- and Apple is seeking damages for a pretty wide range of products, including many models in the Galaxy line of smart phones and its Galaxy Tab tablets, alleging that Samsung copied its design on these devices. Samsung, of course, says it did no such thing and alleges that several of Apple's patents are invalid.

Patience is wearing a bit thin at this point: on Thursday Apple's lawyers presented a 75-page document relating to more than 20 witnesses they might want to call to rebut Samsung's claims. Judge Lucy Koh responded: "Unless you're smoking crack you know these witnesses aren't going to be called!" (The attorneys agreed to pare down the list, but not before attorney William Lee assured Judge Koh that drugs were not, in fact, involved in the request.) Later in the day Koh chided Samsung for spending too much time cross-examining Apple's witnesses instead of building its own case.

Judge Koh's outburst has to do with the 25-hour total given to each company to present their side of the case, not including opening and closing arguments. As of Thursday afternoon, Apple had fewer than four hours remaining, and although Apple's lawyers assured Koh that they had "timed it out" and would be able to get through all the witnesses, Joe Mullin at Ars Technica reports that Koh has promised to "think up a penalty" if Apple's estimate overshoots.

So what's next? By Thursday afternoon Apple was speeding through its witness list, trying to finish solidifying its case before time runs out. (The witnesses Apple lawyers were able to call included patent experts, Apple's VP of Procurement, and a former iOS software engineer, who appeared in demo videos shown to the court.)

Closing arguments are scheduled for Tuesday, and Judge Koh wants the jury to begin deliberations by Thursday. The verdict will have some pretty major implications not only for Apple and Samsung and the consumers who use their products (read: just about everyone), but could also affect the patent process itself -- especially if a good number of either company's patents are ruled invalid.

Reader's what's your take on the trial? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

For more on how technology intersects daily life, follow Innovation editor Chris Gaylord on Twitter @venturenaut.

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