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Third Do-Over in Apple-Samsung Spat Paused

SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) - A federal judge pressed the pause button on her portion of the epic patent battle between Samsung and Apple on Tuesday to let the U.S. Supreme Court have its say in the years-long case.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh stayed a retrial on Apple's trade dress claims that was set to begin March 28, after the Supreme Court agreed to decide the broader question of whether Samsung copied Apple's design for the iPhone to craft its own line of Galaxy products.

The retrial in San Jose stems from a case filed by Apple in April 2011 in which the tech giant claimed Samsung "slavishly copied" its designs.

A jury awarded Apple $1 billion in damages in 2012, finding Samsung had violated Apple's patents to produce its line of Galaxy smartphones and tablets. Koh halved that award the following year, faulting the jury for not following her instructions in the 22-page, 700-question verdict form, and ordered a retrial on related damages.

The second jury awarded Apple $290 million. Samsung immediately appealed both cases to the Federal Circuit, which largely upheld the juries' work.

Samsung appealed to the nation's high court, which earlier this week agreed to hear the case.

In the meantime, a third retrial centering on five of Apple's initial 26 trade dress claims landed back in Koh's courtroom.

Samsung asked for the stay on Monday, immediately after the Supreme Court announced it would hear the appeal of the Federal Circuit's decisions. Apple argued the stay was unnecessary, particularly given the amount of work put into pretrial conferences, evidentiary battles and the nearness of the trial start date.

Koh sided with Samsung, saying the Supreme Court decision, regardless of outcome, will affect the proceedings in her court.

"Given the centrality of the question now before the U.S. Supreme Court to the 2016 damages retrial and Apple's motion for supplemental damages, the court finds that it is likely that a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court-regardless of the specific outcome-will inform the proceedings in this case," Koh wrote.

When asked about its request to stay the case, Samsung said, "The Supreme Court has recently decided to consider issues of design patent damages arising from this very case, so we believed it was important to stay the retrial until the Supreme Court issues its ruling, and the district court agreed."

Apple did not return an email seeking comment by press time.

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