Silicon Valley Judgement Day as Apple, Samsung await patent trial verdict

Here’s a recap of the most famous technology patent trial of our times by Brian X Chen of the New York Times.

How it all began

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in January 2007,he said the devices new touch-screen technology “worked like magic.” He also said,”And boy,have we patented it!” Apple’s lawyer,Harold J McElhinny, said on Tuesday that Apples rivals should have taken Jobs’ proclamation as a warning not to copy iPhone. But Samsung did not get the message [apparently],he said.In closing arguments in the latest patent trial between Apple and Samsung Electronics, McElhinny argued that Samsung quickly became a world leader in the mobile device market by copying features of Apple’s iPhones and iPads, violating multiple patents. But Samsung offered jurors a different story: Samsung’s phones have been successful not because of copying but because the company came up with its own inventions and built its brand and reputation through a huge marketing budget.

Samsung: Crisis of Design

In the month-long trial, Apple has accused Samsung of selling phones and tablets that violate five of its mobile-software patents[image below]. Samsung has countered accusing Apple of violating two of its patents [image below]. The eight-person jury,which includes a retired IBM engineer, a police officer, a store clerk and a retired teacher, started deliberations Tuesday afternoon.I f they conclude that patents were infringed, they will determine the damages. Apple wants $2 billion from Samsung. Samsung wants about $6 million from Apple and has argued that it should owe only about $38 million if it is found to have infringed all five patents. McElhinny said that Samsung did not have anything similar to an iPhone when Apple’s smartphone was introduced. But Samsung, he said, eventually released many phones that copied feature after feature of the iPhone. “Samsung knew about the patents, it knew it was facing a crisis of design, and it intentionally copied the iPhone”, McElhinny told the jury. McElhinny said “Samsung was trying to play down the importance of some features covered by Apples patents.” But”,he said,”internal Samsung documents contradicted those claims.” For instance,an internal Samsung presentation revealed that Samsung’s designers viewed Apple’s “Slide to Unlock” feature, which allows access to an iPhone, as a creative way to solve user interface complexity. An internal document brought up repeatedly throughout the trial was a 2010 staff memo from JK Shin, the Chief Executive of Samsung’s mobile business. In it,he said that the company was suffering a crisis of design and that the difference between iPhones and Samsung phones was the difference between heaven and earth.

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Apple: Holy War 

William Price, Samsung’s lawyer, said that Google was the bigger target in this case and that Apple was using patents to limit consumer choice and gain an unfair advantage against its main competitor, Google’s Android operating system. Apple’s complaint targets some features that Google put in Android, like the ability to tap on a phone number inside a text to dial the number. Apple has repeatedly stressed that Google was not a defendant in this case and that Samsung, not Google, chose to sell devices with infringing features. But Google’s role in the trial turned out to be more formal than expected. Last week, a Google lawyer testified that the company had agreed to cover some of Samsung’s legal costs for claims in the trial and to indemnify Samsung if it lost on those claims. Samsung also had Apple documents to show as evidence that Apple was concerned about falling behind competitors. In a 2010 email, Jobs acknowledged that Apple was trailing Google in internet services like email and calendars. He declared that Apple was in a “Holy War” with Google. Lawyers on both sides argued that each party had misinterpreted the other’s documents. McElhinny said holy war referred to a broad competitive strategy that Apple was going to execute to make better products. Responding to the crisis of design memo, Price said the company’s chief was restating that carriers, not Samsung, wanted a copy of the iPhone.

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Shaminder Pal Singh

I am a student by day and tech blogger by night. I try to bring to the public the latest and greatest news from the tech world!

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