Harold McElhinny, Morrison & Foerster partner.
Harold McElhinny, Morrison & Foerster partner. (Jason Doiy)

SAN FRANCISCO — Morrison & Foerster has moved back into the driver’s seat for Apple in the next phase of its patent war with Samsung.

Harold McElhinny, Rachel Krevans and a band of other MoFo lawyers entered appearances in the case for Apple earlier this month, edging out a team from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. MoFo previously had little active involvement, but is now leading Apple’s affirmative case, which had been handled by Gibson, according to a lawyer with knowledge of the matter. The case, set for trial in March, pits the tech titans in another patent dispute over newer smartphones and tablets.

Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr is defending Apple against Samsung’s claims of patent infringement. Gibson will continue to have some involvement, the lawyer said.

Gibson Dunn partner Joshua Krevitt did not respond to a request for comment. McElhinny and Krevans also did not respond to requests for comment.

MoFo and Wilmer Hale played offense and defense for Apple in the company’s original courtroom battle before U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, which ended in a landmark $1.1 billion award to Apple in August 2012. They hung onto most of that sum for the Cupertino-based company through a hard-fought rematch on damages in November.

The partnership has been mutually enriching. MoFo rang up more than $60 million in fees prosecuting the case, according to a declaration from Krevans in December.

Now McElhinny and Krevans are leading the charge in a separate case, sometimes called Apple II, which involves different patents and devices. When the adversaries reunite in Koh’s courtroom on March 31, the San Jose jury will hear claims that Samsung devices infringe patented technology used in more recent Apple products, including the iPhone 5.

Samsung is represented by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan as in the original jury trial and the damages retrial.

But before embarking on their third Northern District jury trial in the past two years, Apple and Samsung will take one more stab at mediation. Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Oh-Hyun Kwon will come together with members of their in-house legal teams on or before Feb. 19, according to court papers.

Contact the reporter at jlove@alm.com.