updated 10:00 am EDT, Thu September 29, 2011
Apple says Jobs gave olive branch in Samsung suit
Apple's then-CEO Steve Jobs personally got in touch with Samsung last year to try and head off a protracted legal battle, patent council senior director Richard Lutton claimed in an Australian court hearing on a possible preliminary ban. Supposedly trying to head off legal action, Jobs made some of the initial contact, giving Samsung a "chance to do the right thing," the WSJ heard. It was the "deep relationship" Apple had with Samsung as one of its most important suppliers that led him to make the gesture, according to the testimony.
What Jobs wanted wasn't mentioned, although he's likely to have asked for Samsung to do voluntarily what Apple now wants in court. Most such lawsuits are intended to either extract a per-device royalty, sometimes in the form of a one-time lump sum payment, or else to get design changes. Apple, and Jobs specifically, is believed to have been upset that Samsung's Android device designs from 2010 on, particularly the Galaxy S, had conspicuous hardware and software changes that weren't standard for Android that made it look more like an iPhone.
The iPad creator also spent time arguing that Samsung could avert patent infringements to keep its devices on sale, pointing to software changes Samsung had already done for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 between the US and Australia launches. Samsung said it could drop a selective rejection feature, which drops unintended touchscreen input, but that there wasn't proof it had or could have redesigned the touchscreen itself in the weeks between releases.
"I may have missed an ocean liner but I've never seen this argument before that we could easily redesign our touch screen," said Samsung's attorney, David Catterns. "There is evidence we redesigned our software. Of course we redesigned our software."
Additional details caught by the Sydney Morning Herald also saw Apple ironically overstate the possible success of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the Australian market if it were allowed to stay on sale. The tablet could "seduce" customers away from the iPad, Apple said. It would arrive with the "velocity of a fire hose" and "take away iPad 2 sales so quickly" that Samsung's alleged infringement would have had its full impact by the time the trial came to an end.
The statement was more likely to persuade the judge a ban is necessary than reflecting Samsung's actual impact. Where Samsung was quick to tout original Galaxy Tab sales milestones, it has been completely silent on how well the Tab 10.1 has fared. Most non-iPad tablet makers, including Android designers and BlackBerry PlayBook creator RIM, have had to lower their goals either publicly or privately.
Samsung was also in the unusual position of trying to minimize any potential success. Catterns argued that Samsung was mostly competing with other Android tablet creators, since platform philosophies usually drove people to one camp or the other. The claims weren't entirely sincere since Samsung redesigned the Galaxy Tab 10.1 body in just a few weeks explicitly to compete with the iPad 2.
Justice Annabelle Bennett, presiding over the hearings, didn't appear to lean in any one direction and said there were "strong factors" on either side. The hearing ended up without a conclusion and had to continue to Friday local time, much to the frustration of Samsung attorneys who had volunteered triple pay to court officers to keep going and wrap up. Samsung nonetheless agreed to appear for the second portion of the hearing and added that it would honor an initial ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 as long as it was in effect.