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Steve Jobs' Android comments won't be in Apple-Samsung trial

Judge bars comments the late Apple CEO made about going to "thermonuclear war" to destroy Google's mobile operating system.

The cover of "Steve Jobs," by Walter Isaacson.
Simon & Schuster

Steve Jobs won't be heard in the Apple-Samsung patent infringement trial after all.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh today granted an Apple request to ban disparaging comments the late Apple CEO made about Google's Android operating system, according to a Reuters report. Apple had asked the court to exclude any statements attributed to Jobs by Walter Isaacson, Jobs' biographer, about wanting to destroy Android because it's allegedly a stolen product and his intention to go to "thermonuclear war" to achieve that goal.

The disputed comments were made during interviews with Isaacson before Jobs died last October.

"I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong," Jobs told his biographer. "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this."

Samsung had argued in a court filing that Jobs' "thermonuclear" comment "speaks to Apple's bias, improper motives and its lack of belief in its own claims in that they are a means to an end, namely the destruction of Android."

Koh disagreed, saying the comments were not relevant.

"I really don't think this is a trial about Steve Jobs," Koh said.

The ruling contradicts a ruling made in a patent infringement lawsuit between Apple and Motorola Mobility. Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled in June that the comments would be fair game but ended up dismissing the case before it went to trial.

The decision is the latest in a series of pretrial motions being addressed as the two companies inch closer to the beginning of their high-stakes patent trial, due to begin July 30. Apple initiated the action with a 2011 lawsuit in California accusing Samsung of copying "the look and feel" of its iPad tablet and iPhone smartphone, and Samsung quickly responded with a countersuit against Apple.

Koh also ruled today that details of Apple's operations in China could be admitted as evidence as long as it did not focus on human rights issues.