Judge Paul Grewal

U.S. court to Apple: Doing our job is a waste of our time

June 27, 2013: 1:07 PM ET

A judge can't be bothered to add Samsung's Galaxy S4 to the trial he scheduled for 2014.

Justice via Gilbert & Sullivan

Justice via Gilbert & Sullivan

FORTUNE -- U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal, who has been handling some of the case load created by the multiple patent infringement suits filed in California by Apple (AAPL) and Samsung, has a judicial metabolism better fit for the 19th century than 21st.

He's the judge who was assigned the task last year of scheduling Apple's second big federal patent suit against Samsung -- not the one that Apple won 10 months ago with a $1.05 billion award (of which not a nickel has been paid), but the one Apple filed to capture some of smartphones Samsung released in the interim.

Apple filed the second case in February 2012. Judge Grewal scheduled the trial for March 2014 -- 13 months and several Samsung smartphone generations later.

On Wednesday, faced with a request from Apple to replace one of the rapidly aging phones in the second suit with Samsung's current flagship, the Galaxy S4, Grewel issued a curt denial:

Adding another product to the case is a "tax on the court's resources," Grewal wrote, according to Bloomberg. "Each time these parties appear in the courtroom, they consume considerable amounts of the court's time and energy, which takes time way from other parties who also require and are entitled to the court's attention."

Grewel's ruling followed one issued in March by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh that asked both sides to narrow their claims to 25 products and 25 infringement claims, the first of several steps by which she intended to reduce those numbers even further.

Given that Samsung has dozens of products on the market and Apple only a handful, this streamlining hurts Apple and, like every procedural delay, plays to Samsung's strength.

As FOSS Patents' Florian Mueller wrote in March:

I understand why the judge wants to limit the number of accused products, but there's something important that the order doesn't say: how will the rule of law ever be enforced if companies have to drop claims against products they actually consider to have infringed and if they don't have reasonable access to injunctive relief that would give them enough leverage to obtain a favorable settlement? How can a legitimate innovator enforce his rights against an obstinate infringer? With all the talk about the U.S. patent system being "broken", there's hardly any attention to the fact that the U.S. patent enforcement system makes it extremely difficult for right holders to deal with parties that infringe large numbers of patents with large numbers of products.

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