Apple-Samsung Smartphone Trial: Steve Jobs Shouldn't Influence Upcoming Case, Judge Says

By Dan Levine

SAN JOSE, California (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Wednesday approved Apple Inc's request to bar disparaging statements by Steve Jobs about Google's Android operating system from an upcoming patent trial against Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

Apple and Samsung, the world's largest consumer electronics corporations, are waging legal war in several countries, accusing each other of patent violations as they vie for supremacy in the fast-growing market for mobile devices.

Samsung's phones and tablet run on the Android operating system, developed by Google.

Before he died last year, Apple co-founder Jobs made a number of statements to his biographer about the company's intellectual property, saying he was willing to go "thermonuclear" to "destroy" Google's operating system.

In seeking to introduce Jobs' statements in court, Samsung argued in a filing that the thermonuclear quote "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."

However, Apple argued in a court filing that Jobs' quotes are an inadmissible distraction, and asked that they be barred from trial.

At a hearing in a San Jose, California federal court on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh said Jobs' statements were not relevant.

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

Apple sued Samsung last year, claiming the South Korean company blatantly copies its designs for the iPhone and iPad. Samsung denies the allegations and has countersued.

The trial is scheduled to begin July 30. Apple has won pretrial injunctions against the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Galaxy Nexus phone. Samsung is appealing both injunctions.

In another case in the smartphone wars, Chicago federal judge Richard Posner had said Jobs' quotes would be fair game in a trial between Apple and Google's Motorola Mobility unit. However, Posner eventually dismissed that case before trial, saying neither side could prove damages.

Also on Wednesday, Koh ruled that evidence about Apple's operations in China could be discussed, but could not be cast as human rights problems. Evidence of Samsung's taxes paid in the U.S. could also be discussed, Koh ruled, but Apple would not be able to make any insinuations of tax avoidance.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, is Apple Inc v. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd et al, 11-1846.

(Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Richard Pullin)