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Apple can't add Galaxy S4 to latest Samsung patent lawsuit, says judge

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A San Jose court has denied Apple's attempt to add the Galaxy S4 to its patent case against Samsung. In a statement yesterday, Judge Paul S. Grewal said that adding a new product to the case would fly in the face of Judge Lucy Koh's previous instruction to minimize the scope of the lawsuit. "Each time these parties appear in the courtroom, they consume considerable amounts of the court's time and energy," he wrote, "which takes time away from other parties who also require and are entitled to the court's attention."

Apple's second US lawsuit against Samsung — following a dramatic win in the first trial last year — currently covers the Galaxy Note II, Galaxy S III, and Galaxy Nexus among several other phones and tablets. In mid-May, Apple proposed to add the recently released Galaxy S4 and drop its claim against another Samsung product, leaving the total number changed. It argued that the S4 presented a clearer threat to Apple's intellectual property, and that substituting it for another device wouldn't be unduly onerous.

"Each time these parties appear, they consume considerable amounts of the court's time and energy."

But Grewal disagreed. Judges have grown increasingly impatient with Apple and Samsung's legal maneuvering over the past years, and the Obama administration has vowed to crack down on patent trolls and other companies that file unnecessary suits. In short, it's a bad time to convince a court that changing or expanding the scope of a patent case is a good idea. "Judge Koh has been explicit with both parties that this case must be streamlined, which requires reducing the number of products and patents at issue — not increasing them," wrote Grewal. "The number of products may be the same, but as the court described, the potential disputes revolving around Galaxy S4 are greater than whatever product it will replace because of its late addition." He noted that because of the S4's recent release, it would also be harder to gather information about consumer preferences, sales, or marketing efforts.

In previous filings, Apple said that not being able to include the Galaxy S4 would force it to bring yet another lawsuit. Grewal, however, said that neither he nor Koh had been persuaded by this argument when Apple made it before. "Apple already needs to dismiss without prejudice several products from this case and so a new trial would be likely regardless," he wrote.