updated 08:55 pm EDT, Tue July 31, 2012
Samsung legal senior partner narrowly avoids censure
Day two of the highly-anticipated Apple versus Samsung smartphone trial in US District Court under Judge Lucy Koh has concluded. The day began with a juror being dismissed for financial reasons, leaving a bare minimum of seven men and two women on the jury (with no alternates currently available). Initial arguments were given by both parties, and limited testimony was heard by a handful of pro-Apple witnesses. The trial continues on Friday, August 3 in the California court.
Before the opening arguments even began, John Quinn, senior partner and founder of Samsung's law firm Quinn Emanuel begged the court to re-hear the Sony-inspired smartphone photo issue dismissed and forbidden by the judge yesterday.
After Koh's refusal, Quinn retorted "What's the point of having a trial? They [Apple] want to create a completely false impression that we came up with this design after January 2007." Koh fired back after the outburst, clearly irritated by the lawyer's delivery, saying she had reviewed what the firm had filed yesterday, threatened sanction, and ordered the lawyer to sit down.
Samsung has attempted to include the Sony-inspired iPhone prototype image numerous times, despite evidence (that formed the basis of the judge's ruling) that Apple had already achieved the original design over a year earlier without any Sony influence. The 2006 images are seen in context as a side project to illustrate an example of what a Sony-style iPhone might look like, and were not used in any shipping design.
Nearly the entire day was dedicated to the opening statements, with lawyers from the legal combatants offering differing perspectives on the smartphone patent war. Apple attorney Harold McElhinny said "Samsung had two choices -- accept the challenge of the iPhone ... and beat Apple fairly in the marketplace, or it could copy Apple. It is easier to copy than innovate."
Samsung is attempting to portray Apple as having exaggerated its influential role in the smartphone and tablet markets. Samsung attorney Charles Verhoeven denied Samsung has ever copied Apple, and just evolved its own products over time. Samsung's opening presentation was described as "choppy" by witnesses, in contrast to Apple's "sleek" remarks, with Samsung's introductory video abruptly stopping during playback at one point.
McElhinny told the jury that "Samsung refuses to stop using Apple's intellectual property" and presented slides showing internal Samsung emails, including one saying "Let's make something like the iPhone."
Christoper Stringer, one of Apple's lead designers who worked on the original iPhone and iPad during his 17 years of service showed original sketches of an iPhone on what appeared to be a paper towel to the jury. When an Apple attorney asked what he was trying to achieve when designing the iPad, Stringer said that he was trying to build "something that would wow the world."
When Stringer was asked if he was aware of intellectual property and design copiers, he said that Apple had "been ripped off, it's plain to see" pointing out Samsung as the most offensive and slavish copier of the technology. Samsung asked the designer if he was familiar with Samsung's phones, and pointed to a Stringer-authored email attempting to show that Apple reviewed competitor's products frequently, as part of the design process.
Stringer admitted to referring to Samsung (and others) as "the enemy" in an email that referred to a meeting to look at competing products. He said designers were interested in the design choices made by competitors as well as the physical dimensions, look and feel. When asked if he thought Samsung's use of four soft buttons on the bottom of some smartphones was an example of "beautiful" design, he replied "they do not stick in my mind."
Apple Vice President Phil Schiller took the stand at the end of the day after Stringer's cross examination for approximately ten minutes, but had little to add before the end of time for the day. The trial continues Friday, with Schiller re-taking the stand.
The first day of the trial was devoted to seating the jury. Jurors were drawn from a wide cross-section of Silicon Valley life, including an insurance agent, a cycling retailer manager, a startup payroll manager, and a currently-unemployed video game enthusiast who was ultimately selected as jury foreman.
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. Thus far, Apple has prevailed in most instances, including winning a total of three sales injunctions against Samsung, though one for the Galaxy Nexus smartphone has been stayed for the duration of the trial.
The judge has been attempting to streamline this trial from the beginning, allowing patents dropped from this suit to be re-applied at a later date. The CEOs from both Samsung and Apple were ordered to attempt to work out a settlement between each other in April, but the two CEOs made little or no headway during negotiations.