Samsung, Apple resume their patent dispute in court
The trial marks the latest round in a long-running, worldwide series of lawsuits between the two tech giants over mobile devices.
San Jose Mercury News
Apple and Samsung Electronics may have resumed their global patent feud in federal court on Tuesday, but the first day of their trial centered on a Silicon Valley giant nowhere to be seen — Google.
In opening remarks to a federal jury, Apple stuck to its familiar story, portraying a Samsung strategy of copying iPhone and iPad technology as an underhanded market grab that has continued since late Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the smartphone at MacWorld in 2007.
But Samsung, in its most aggressive counterattack on Apple to date, crafted a very different story line. To Samsung, Apple’s legal assault on the South Korean tech giant is all about panic over losing its iGrip on the smartphone and tablet market — and a “holy war” against its true rival, Google and its Android operating system.
Those were the competing versions presented to an eight-member federal jury hearing the latest round in the Apple v. Samsung patent showdown, their second trial in less than two years over the rights to smartphone and tablet technology.
This time, Apple argues that Samsung should pay more than $2 billion in damages for violating patented features in iPhone and iPads in newer Samsung phones such as the Galaxy S3. Apple’s costs, if it loses the litigation, are expected to be about $6 million, according to The Associated Press.
“They crossed into the dark side of intentional copying,” Apple attorney Harold McElhinny told the jury.
Punching back at Apple’s copying claims, Samsung showed the jury emails from top executives, including Jobs, fretting about the Google threat. Jobs, one document showed, promised a “holy war” against Google in 2011.
“This is really about Apple versus Google’s Android,” Samsung lawyer John Quinn told the jury. “Google is an Apple obsession. That’s what this lawsuit is about.”
Having already won a 2012 jury verdict against Samsung (and nearly $1 billion in damages), Apple’s lawyers appeared to stick to the same script in this second trial, which alleges Samsung has copied newer Apple products such as the iPhone 5 in its more recent smartphones and tablets.
As with the first trial, Apple started with a video of Jobs introducing the iPhone, and rolled out internal Samsung emails showing executives considered their smartphones well behind Apple’s products.
Even before Samsung brought up Google, McElhinny tried to downplay Samsung’s argument that the patent fight is about Android, which has been at the core of most Samsung devices. He noted that Samsung sells the smartphones and tablets with the five Apple patents at issue in the trial, such the slide-to-lock and auto-correct features.
“This case is not about Google,” he told the jury. “It is Samsung that has made the decision to copy these features.”
But Quinn got up and waved a Galaxy Nexus phone at the jury and told them Samsung did not invent the patented software features Apple is suing over. He assured the jury they would hear from Google engineers who developed Android and called Apple’s damages demand “absurd.”
Showing the jury internal Apple memos suggesting concern about losing ground to Android, Quinn added: “They are trying to gain from you in this courtroom what (they) have lost in the marketplace.”
Apple started its case Tuesday with Philip Schiller, the company’s top marketing executive who also testified at the first trial. Schiller recounted the secretive, risky origins of launching the iPhone, seeking to back Apple’s claims that the smartphone revolutionized the industry and Samsung copied to keep up.
Consumers may end up paying the ultimate price in the case. Some experts say the litigation could lead to more expensive smartphones and devices and slow the overall pace of mobile innovation.
Rutgers Law School professor Michael Carrier said the litigation is “a drain on employees’ time and could lead to companies reinventing the wheel to try to steer clear of patents.”
Less than two years ago, a federal jury in the same courthouse found that Samsung was infringing on Apple patents. Samsung was ordered to pay about $900 million but is appealing and has been allowed to continue selling products using the technology.
Throughout three years of litigation, Samsung’s global market share has grown. One of every three smartphones sold last year was a Samsung, now the market leader. Apple, with its typically higher priced iPhones, was second, with about 15 percent of the market.
For the trial, jury was selected Monday from a pool of about 100 people, many of whom had opinions about the legal dispute and work for companies affiliated with Samsung or Apple.
The trial will resume Friday with more Apple witnesses, including Greg Christie, a senior engineer involved in developing the iPhone.