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Judge Posner, Presiding at Patent Trial, Will Use Court-Appointed Experts to Explain Terms

Posted May 14, 2012 5:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Judge Richard Posner is experimenting with court-appointed experts in a patent dispute between Apple and Motorola.

Though Posner is an appeals judge with the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, he likes to volunteer for trials, the Chicago Tribune reports. In a speech at the 7th Circuit Bar Association on Monday, Posner said the court-appointed experts could explain unclear scientific terms to jurors in the case.

"The idea of expert witness who are not beholden to the parties who can provide information to judges and juries on technical issues, I think is a terrific opportunity worth exploring," Posner said.

In a March 10 court order (PDF), Posner endorsed another idea—a special blue-ribbon jury—to help decipher difficult patent claims in the case, the Patent Lawyer Blog has reported. Posner told lawyers he wanted the claim constructions to be “in ordinary English intelligible to persons having no scientific or technical background” since lay jurors would be deciding the case.

“There is no point in giving jurors stuff they won't understand,” he wrote. “The jury (actual juries) will not consist of patent lawyers and computer scientists or engineers unless the parties stipulate to a ‘blue ribbon’ jury; I would welcome their doing so but am not optimistic.”

The trial is scheduled to begin in June. Apple claims Motorola violated six of its patents, while Motorola claims violation of three of its patents. Apple suffered a loss in late April when Posner ruled a finger swipe isn't the same as a tap in a claim relating to an Amazon.com app, Bloomberg News reports.

TheStreet.com says Apple has 30 lawyers on the case. "Among all the Android patent trials now going on around the world, this one may indeed be the Super Bowl," the story says.

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