This trial — with billions of dollars riding on the line — seeks to answer the question of whether Apple has willfully infringed on Samsung’s patents by not licensing them, or if Samsung’s tablet and smartphone offerings infringed upon Apple’s trade dress — essentially an attempt by Samsung to cash in on the prominence of the iPhone and iPad in the cultural zeitgeist by making devices that looked a little too similar — as well as patents regarding functionality.
Today’s jury selection involved whittling down a pool of 74 potential jurors to 9 by screening them for potential biases. Jurors were asked if they they, close friends, or family worked for Apple, Samsung, Google or Motorola, and if they had any financial interest in any of the aforementioned companies. Potential jurors were also asked if they had any strong views towards either company, or the U.S patent system. Lawyers for both Samsung and Apple peppered the potential jurors with questions, hoping to separate the ineligible from the eligible.
Reportedly, this jury is a motley crew of technological wizards: amongst the potential jurors is a UI designer for Google, and five patent holders — with one who claims to hold 120 patents.
After the jurors were whittled down, but before they were sworn in, lawyers from Samsung and Apple engaged in pre-trial haggling to finalize the witnesses and exhibits. In question was whether testimony from Apple industrial designer Shin Nishibori will be allowed. According to Samsung’s trial brief, Mr. Nishibori apparently took inspiration for the iPhone from a Sony smartphone.
“In February 2006, before the claimed iPhone design was conceived, Apple executive Tony Fadell circulated a news article to Steve Jobs, Jonathan Ive and others. In the article, a Sony designer discussed Sony designs for portable electronic devices that lacked buttons and other ‘excessive ornamentation,’ fit in the hand, were ‘square with a screen’ and had ‘corners [which] have been rounded out,’” the trial brief notes.
Samsung’s lawyer, Charles Verhoeven, argued that the testimony should be allowed as the Sony design was apparently the genesis of Apple’s iPhone.
“What we have here is an allegation against my client that we’re slavishly copying,” Mr. Verhoeven said before the court to presiding Judge Lucy Koh. “Just like we look to competitors to get inspired, so does Apple.”
Though Samsung and Apple will be locked in court battles for the next few weeks, arms of Samsung will still do business with Apple. Under license from ARM, Samsung supplies the A-series processor found in the iPhone and iPad, while Samsung Mobile Display builds the “Retina” display for Apple.
Speaking to Wired, Kevin Packingham, Samsung’s Chief Product Officer explained the nebulous relationship.
“The two parts of the company, they’re extremely isolated. There are times when I’m absolutely appalled that we sell what I consider to be the most innovative, most secret parts of the sauce of our products to some other manufacturer — HTC, LG, Apple, anybody,” Mr. Packingham explained. “And they [the components groups] are like, ‘Look, that’s none of your business. You go make your mobile phones and if you’d like to use our components, that’d be great.’”
“But you know, we also use Qualcomm components, and we source from other component manufacturers as well.”
The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, is Apple Inc v. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd et al, No. 11-1846.
Tags: Apple v Samsung