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Apple, Samsung to face off in May for damages retrial

The two companies will be back in a San Jose, California, courtroom on May 14 to continue their long-running patent infringement dispute.

Apple and Samsung have been battling over patents for five years. 

Apple v. Samsung is headed back to court in mid-May. 

The two companies, in a joint court filing Wednesday, proposed that a retrial to determine damages for patent infringement take place that month. District Court Judge Lucy Koh, in a hearing later Wednesday, agreed with their timeline. The trial is scheduled to kick off May 14 and last for five days. 

Koh also ruled new discovery can be admitted in the trial since the parameters for determining damages have changed, but she cautioned the parties that she doesn't want "a complete do-over" on deciding damages. She also said she won't vacate a September 2015 partial judgment but said she may re-evaluate it after the current trial. 

Koh, who has overseen the patent dispute since it began over five years ago, said not allowing new information could make the case more vulnerable to an appeal. 

"I would prefer to not keep doing this until I retire," she said at the hearing Wednesday. "I would like this to be some closure for all of us."

The new trial is just the latest battle in a long-running patent dispute between Apple and Samsung. The companies have been fighting for half a decade, and the new trial is the third in this case, alongside the initial August 2012 trial and a November 2013 damages retrial. Apple and Samsung also have another patent case making its way through the courts that involves more-popular devices like the Galaxy S3. 

The value of design patents

The new trial slated for May will determine how much Samsung must pay Apple for infringing three of its design patents. In the past, damages were based on the profits of the entire product that infringed another company's patents, not just the part of the product that infringed. Now that scope can be much narrower. In the case of Apple and Samsung, damages could be based on part of a phone, not necessarily the entire phone. Samsung had previously paid Apple $399 million for its infringement, based on the earlier rules. 

The question about how much money could be owed for infringing design patents made it all the way to the Supreme Court in late 2016. In December, the highest court in the land, in a unanimous opinion, issued its ruling on the scope of the infringing "article of manufacture." That ruling reshaped the value of designs and how much one company may have to pay for copying the look of a competitor's product. 

But the Supreme Court didn't give guidance on how damages should be decided, and in February, an appeals court punted the case back to district court for the Northern District of California.

Apple had asked for the appeals court to uphold the earlier damages ruling because Samsung never showed an "article of manufacture" to be anything other than an entire phone. Samsung, meanwhile, wanted the case sent back to district court for a new damages trial. 

Koh on Sunday gave Samsung its wish and ordered another trial to take place.

First published Oct. 25, 11:54 a.m. PT.
Update, 4:10 p.m.: Adds details from court hearing.

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