Samsung presses court on Apple case seating, language

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Apple and Samsung Electronics spent Friday afternoon in a California courtroom engaged in final arguments ahead of a highly anticipated jury trial that begins on Monday.

The two companies were asking U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh to rule on a number of important issues, including just how much evidence can be submitted in redacted form so it can’t be seen by members of the public or press.

There were also several motions concerning issues of less importance to the public, such as where lawyers sit in court and how the court refers to both companies.

Samsung asked on Thursday that both companies be referred to as “claimants.” Until now the court has referred to Apple as the plaintiff and Samsung as the defendant, because that’s the way the lawsuit was originally filed. Samsung launched its own lawsuit in which it was the plaintiff, but the two were combined at the request of Samsung.

Samsung hasn’t objected to this language thus far, but now Samsung's lawyers say it could be unfair.

“Both parties in this action have claims against the other that will be tried to the jury in the upcoming trial. Accordingly, both parties will at times be acting as plaintiffs and both as defendants, and it is therefore important that both parties are treated the same. It is important that the terminology that is used to refer to the parties reflects this fact. In order to avoid any unfair prejudice to Samsung that may result from references to Apple as ‘plaintiff’ in front of the jury, Samsung requests that both parties be referred to as ‘claimants.,’” Samsung said in a request to the court.

Not just that, but Samsung also wants to play musical chairs: sitting at the plaintiff’s table when it’s on the offensive.

“The general rule in courts nationwide, both civil and criminal, is that the party with the burden of proof sits nearest the jury. In keeping with this practice, it makes sense that Samsung would sit at plaintiff’s table while presenting its affirmative case,” Samsung said.

Samsung says that at least one other case has gone with such an arrangement, but to date Judge Koh hasn’t shown much enthusiasm for anything that might slow down the case.

The case is 11-01846 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The jury trial portion of the case is scheduled to begin on Monday with jury selection.

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