Path Cleared for 2nd Apple-Samsung Showdown

     SAN JOSE (CN) - With three months to go before a second patent showdown between Apple and Samsung, a federal judge handed the tech giants a mixed bag of pretrial judgment decisions involving 30 of their smartphones and tablet devices.
     Apple and Samsung have been locked in a bitter - and worldwide - patent dispute since 2011 when Apple claimed that the South Korean company "slavishly copied" the iPhone and iPad to produce the Galaxy line of mobile phones and tablets. Cupertino-based Apple filed a second suit the next year, accusing Samsung of flooding the market with more copycat products likely to confuse consumers.
     The first trial ended with a jury awarding Apple more than $1 billion in damages, a figure that U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh halved after faulting jurors for not following her instructions. This past November, a new jury handed Apple another $290 million in a retrial on damages from the first go-round.
     With the second trial slated to begin March 31, Koh found Tuesday that "reasonable jury could conclude" that Samsung had infringed Apple's "auto correct" function on 11 of its products. She granted summary judgment on that claim but Apple did not fare as well with claims that Samsung swiped the system that automatically identifies and highlights addresses and phone numbers to keep users from employing the old cut-and-paste method to use them.
     And Koh said Apple also has work to do to prove that Samsung's Galaxy S III infringes its patent for the software that governs syncing between a desktop computer and handheld devices. She also declined Samsung's request to find the patent invalid for anticipation.
     The South Korean company managed to win Koh's agreement that Apple's patent for a computer search function was based on an earlier product called AppleSearch, which was widely available to the public prior to the new invention.
     She nevertheless declined Samsung's invitation to call the patent invalid for a lack of descriptive clarity.
     "Apple relies on other elements of the claim to distinguish it from the prior art," the 49-page ruling states.
     As to Samsung's claim that Apple infringed a patent that allows users to sync movies and music to several devices, Koh found the patent completely incorporated an earlier invention. The new patent even goes so far as to cross-reference the first invention in its written description, according to the ruling.
     Meanwhile, both sides confirmed earlier this month that their respective CEOs and in-house counsel would sit down and talk settlement prior to the March trial.