Second judge to join Apple-Samsung trial

It's the first time in federal court history that two judges have jointly heard a case at the same time in the same room

The patent trial in Australia between Apple and Samsung Electronics has become so complex that a second judge has been assigned to the case.

It's the first time in Australian federal court history that two judges will hear a case at the same time in the same courtroom, something both Apple and Samsung have agreed to, according to a court document filed Monday.

The document describes how the court plans to proceed with the case, launched by Apple in July 2011. The second judge, Justice David Yates, will sit with Justice Annabelle Claire Bennett through June 14, when Apple is scheduled to finish presenting its case.

Apple accuses Samsung of infringing a number of its patents related to touchscreen technology in Samsung's Galaxy smartphones and tablets.

Over the next three-and-a-half months, the judges will also hear claims by Samsung that four of Apple's patents should not have been granted in the first place. Under that "judicial review" application, Samsung argues that there are previously issued patents covering the same areas of innovation.

Separately, Samsung has filed a cross-claim against Apple alleging it violated patents related to 3G data transmission. It presented part of its case last year in Bennett's courtroom.

Samsung, which is required to license some of its 3G technology under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms, contends that Apple refused to negotiate.

The world's number-one and number-two smartphone vendors show no sign of backing down in their litigation, which is playing out in courts worldwide. According to a court schedule, the Australian case is slated to continue through December.

In the U.S., Samsung is appealing a federal court jury's finding in August that it must pay Apple US$1.05 billion for infringing several Apple patents in its smartphones and tablets.

Apple also has a second patent case against Samsung in the U.S., filed in February 2012. It accuses Samsung of violating patents it holds in some of its newer products, which Samsung denies. Samsung has filed counterclaims against Apple in that case.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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