SAN JOSE -- A federal judge Thursday suggested she may trim some of Apple's (AAPL) $1 billion judgment against Samsung in their patent feud, but also signaled that she is inclined to block continued sales of Samsung smartphones and tablets a jury found were copies of the iPhone and iPad.
During three hours of legal sparring, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh told Apple and Samsung she plans to issue written rulings in the coming weeks to finalize the first stage of their patent battle and to send the case along to a federal appeals court.
Samsung has urged Koh to set aside a jury's stunning August verdict that found the South Korean tech giant copied Apple's popular iPhone and iPad, or at least slash hundreds of millions of dollars from the damages award. Koh told lawyers on both sides she found some of Samsung's arguments to reduce the damages "persuasive," but it remains unclear how she will tinker with the jury's conclusion.
At the same time, Koh appeared receptive to Apple's argument that Samsung should not be allowed to continue selling the older line of smartphones -- such as the Galaxy S2 -- and tablets that were found to have violated its patent rights. Apple has asked for a permanent injunction on those devices.
With another Apple lawsuit pending against Samsung's more recent
"I think it's time for global peace," said Koh, who tried to get the two companies to settle before the verdict. "I think it would be good for consumers, it would be good for the industry, I think it would be good for the parties."
Lawyers for Apple and Samsung blamed each other for the failure to settle. Harold McElhinny, Apple's lead attorney, told Koh the $1 billion verdict is a "slap on the wrist" against Samsung if the case doesn't force the company to stop copying.
But Charles Verhoeven, a Samsung attorney, maintained it is up to Apple to stop the "thermonuclear war" it has launched against Samsung in courtrooms around the world.
"The ball is in their court," he said.
At this point, the jury's verdict appears headed for the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears all patent appeals. Samsung has vowed to appeal the judgment, and Koh remarked several times during the hearing that she was readying her final rulings for that court.
The judge appeared uninterested in Samsung's argument that the jury's verdict was tainted by the jury foreman, one of many issues raised since the trial. Samsung alleges that Velvin Hogan, the foreman, failed to disclose a previous legal tussle with Seagate Technology that the company maintains rendered him biased.
Meanwhile, if Koh issues a permanent injunction against some of Samsung's older products, Apple is expected to return to court to ask the judge to extend the sales ban to some more recent Samsung smartphones and tablets. Apple has already targeted the popular Galaxy S III, which is topping the sales charts for smartphones.
Howard Mintz covers legal affairs. Contact him at 408-286-0236; follow him at Twitter.com/hmintz.