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Samsung pre-trial term definition backfires; favors Apple

updated 05:25 pm EDT, Fri July 20, 2012

'electronic document' definition draws from Apple's patent

Electronics manufacture Samsung has been dealt another setback in the work-up before its trial with Apple. Samsung requested a tight clarification on the term "electronic document" and the resulting definition construction ended up using several terms verbatim from Apple's "rubber banding" patent, potentially solidifying Apple's claims against Samsung.

Samsung asked for the term "electronic document" to be defined as "content having a defined set of boundaries that can be visually represented on a screen." Apple proposed that no specific construction was necessary, and the meaning was plain, but indicated that the jury might find it helpful to be told that an "electronic document" for the purposes of the patent is "a document stored in a digital format; for example, an 'electronic document' could be a web page, a digital image, a word processing, spreadsheet or presentation document, or a list of items in a digital format."

Apple's examples presented to the court were drawn from the patent terms. Koh is choosing to define "electronic document" as "a document stored in a digital format. An 'electronic document' includes, but is not limited to, a web page; a digital image; a word processing, spreadsheet or presentation document; or a list of items in a digital format," which differs little from Apple's request.

In the same request, Samsung requested to define "structured electronic document" as "an electronic document that includes at least one visual structural element." Apple suggested that the term on its own was sufficiently clear, but added that if examples were needed, web pages, HTML, or XML documents could be used. Judge Koh declined to specifically define the term.

Patent analyst Florian Mueller calls Samsung's definition attempts "consistent with Samsung's proposed jury instructions that serve to obfuscate, not clarify, the issues." Mueller also points out that "anything can happen in a jury trial, but the way the court interprets the patents has a lot of impact on the parties' chances."

Apple's suit began against Samsung last year for violation of several patents in the Korean manufacturer's Android devices, including the oft-referenced "data tapping" patent, that converts phone numbers and URLs embedded in a text to contextually be used as application-specific links. Samsung has lost every one of its 12 summary judgement requests, and Apple has won one of its three requests. The trial is scheduled to begin July 30.

By Electronista Staff
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