The epic patent battle between Apple and Samsung has proved taxing not only for the lawyers and the parties in the case, but also for the judicial system as well. In a recent decision by the Magistrate Judge handling many of the discovery issues in the case, the court pointed out just how unusual--and difficult--the case has been for the court system and how the case has burdened the court and impacted the court's limited resources.
In the middle of the trial, Samsung filed a motion for an adverse jury instruction against Apple. The Magistrate Judge began the order denying the instruction by pointing out that the parties to any case have an obligation to follow the schedule so that the court is able to control its docket, not just for one case, but all of its cases in an orderly fashion: "Before this case the undersigned thought the proposition unremarkable that courts set schedules and parties follow them. This basic division reflects a division not of power, but responsibility, for in setting schedules courts are responsible not only to the parties in one case but to parties in all cases. And the undeniable fact is that because they allow the court to allocate time and other resources in an orderly fashion, schedules and their deadlines in one case can and do impact those in every other case on a judge's docket."
The Magistrate Judge then went on to explain how different the Apple v. Samsung case has been in terms of the disregard for normal court procedures and the court's schedule: "But in so many ways this case has challenged the remarkable and the unremarkable alike. And so papers are filed hours before hearings rather than the days provided by local rule. Hearings themselves are presented on shortened rather than standard time, at least six times before the undersigned alone. Now the court is presented with a motion for an adverse jury instruction based on facts known to the moving party months and months ago in the middle of trial."
The Magistrate Judge was less than impressed with the excuse for tardiness of the request for the instruction: "And the justification for this latest demand outside of any rationale notion of compliance with the schedule of this case? The fact that a timely motion brought by the other side yielded an instruction that could harm the moving party's chances with the jury, and 'fairness' somehow demands a similar instruction as to both parties."
And, of course, the Magistrate Judge also did not buy the "fairness" argument either, continuing "[e]xcept that it doesn't. There is nothing at all unfair about denying relief to one party but not the other when the one but not the other spring into action long after any rational person would say it could have done so."
The Magistrate Judge then explained that "[t]he court has bent itself into a pretzel accommodating the scheduling challenges of this case. But at some point the accommodation must end, lest the hundreds of other parties in civil rights, Social Security, and other cases also presently before the undersigned and presiding judge might reasonably ask: what makes the parties in this patent case so special? We are at that point in this case, and perhaps beyond. And so as a matter alone of this court's well-recognized discretion to hold parties to a schedule and insist upon requests that are timely, Samsung's motion is DENIED."
The authors of www.PatentLawyerBlog.com are patent trial lawyers at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. We represent inventors, patent owners and technology companies in patent licensing and litigation. Whether pursuing patent violations or defending infringement claims, we are aggressive and effective advocates for our clients. For more information contact Stan Gibson at 310.201.3548 or SGibson@jmbm.com.