updated 09:45 pm EDT, Thu August 2, 2012
Prior patent art drawn from movies, TV refused as evidence
The day before the Apple versus Samsung court battle begins anew, Judge Lucy Koh entered her order on three motions from Samsung, ruling against the South Korean manufacturer in every regard. Two orders requested relief from previous rulings against Samsung made by Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal, and a third motion requested clarification of Judge Koh's denial of all of Samsung's summary judgement filings, which resulted in a document generated by the court summarizing allowed and disallowed evidence.
In the run-up to trial, Judge Grewal had sanctioned Samsung for late delivery to the court of source code to work around portions deemed potentially infringing by the judge. Additionally, Grewal ordered much of Samsung's expert testimony excluded, mostly because of evidence presented by the witnesses not previously disclosed as required by law. Samsung's requests for relief were denied, as Judge Koh felt that Judge Grewal wasn't "clearly erroneous" in making his decisions.
In an effort to "aid the parties" in regards to Samsung's request for clarification, Judge Koh provided a table detailing the admissibility of evidence in the trial. Harking back to prior art presented by Samsung in August of 2011, Samsung's presentation of an iPad-like device in the 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey is prohibited from being presented as evidence of a previous design predating Apple's work.
In regards to the fictional example presented as prior art, Judge Koh explained that "Samsung referenced clips from 'Space Odyssey' and 'The Tomorrow People' in its opposition to the preliminary injunction in a general discussion of the background of the field. Samsung did not, however, argue that these references supported an invalidity or non-infringement theory. That Samsung changed tack after the close of fact discovery to include these references in their invalidity theories likely prejudiced Apple, who was not made aware during the preliminary injunction proceedings that Samsung intended to rely on these two prior art references for invalidity."
Fictional constructs have been used as prior art successfully in patent matters. A Donald Duck comic from 1949 about raising a shipwreck with ping pong balls may have been used to invalidate a patent application from 1964 describing the same method used to raise a capsized cargo ship in Kuwait harbor. The key to using fictional examples as patent prior art is the actual implementation and construction of the idea shown in the fiction, rather than just a similar outward presentation of the product in question.
Apple's suit began against Samsung last year for violation of several patents in the Korean manufacturer's Android devices. Apple has prevailed in most matters presented to the court. 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.
Samsung is attempting to portray Apple as having exaggerated its influential role in the smartphone and tablet markets. Samsung denies ever copying Apple's products, and claims to have evolved its own products over time. 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. Day three of the trial will start with Apple Vice President Phil Schiller re-taking the witness stand.