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Judge again denies Samsung an Apple mistrial over 'racist' remarks

For a second time, Judge Lucy Koh rules that remarks about protecting patents from foreign companies weren't enough to sway jury. But she admonishes Apple's legal team.

Judge Lucy Koh presides over Apple's patent infringement case against Samsung last year. Vicki Behringer

Despite Samsung's protestations over "racist" comments by an Apple attorney, the Korea-based gadget maker has been denied for a second time a mistrial in a patent-related case.

On Friday, Judge Lucy Koh again admonished Apple's legal team over remarks made last November during closing arguments in the case, which involved determining the damages Samsung should pay for patent infringement. But she ruled that the remarks didn't influence the jury's verdict and that the verdict would stand.

"Particularly in light of...the high-profile nature of this litigation, the Court expresses its disapproval and disappointment in the comments that led to the instant motion," Koh wrote. "Counsel in this case have been exceptionally well prepared, and the Court has no doubt that counsel carefully chose each theme before presenting it to the jury in closing arguments."

An Apple attorney said during the November closing arguments that US TV manufacturing died because businesses didn't adequately protect their intellectual property from foreign companies. (Samsung is the world's largest TV maker.)

"Our economy will disappear," Apple attorney Harold McElhinny said then. "If the cost of breaking the law is a small fine...Samsung's copying will have proven successful."

In requesting a mistrial at the time, Samsung's lawyers said McElhinny's remarks raised issues about race and outsourcing and could have prejudiced the jury. But Koh denied the request, instead recalling the jury members less than half an hour after they were dismissed to begin deliberations and instructing them to ignore race, a company's national background, and other issues.

On Friday she denied the second mistrial request, though she called McElhinny's remarks "troubling" and noted that homegrown companies suing foreign firms for patent infringement are far more successful than when the situation is reversed.

The jury ruled in November that Samsung must pay Apple $290,456,793 in additional damages for patent infringement, slightly less than the $380 million Apple had requested. That brought Apple's total award to about $930 million. Samsung believed it owed Apple only $52 million more in damages. The case involved the iPhone and other mobile gadgets.

(Via Recode)