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Apple-Samsung patent trial now in hands of jury

updated 07:06 pm EDT, Tue April 29, 2014

Jury begins deliberations a day early as lawyers wrap up

The trial portion of the second Apple-Samsung patent lawsuit is over, with lawyers for both sides giving final closing arguments both offensively and defensively in a case that saw Apple suing Samsung for copying five of its patented inventions, while Samsung countered that Apple had infringed on two patents it bought from others. The jury began deliberations immediately, and will work on the complex jury form assigning guilt and damages from 9:30AM to 4:30PM each day until it arrives at a conclusion.

Samsung ended up going over (by four minutes) its allotted two-hour time limit in its closing arguments, in part caused by its decision to use a tag-team, four-lawyer approach to its presentation. The final speaker, lead Samsung attorney John Quinn, was forced into a rapid-fire spiel cutting large sections of his planned presentation on-the-fly, barely pausing for breath and turning red as he struggled to spit out his both his affirmative case for Apple's having infringed Samsung's patents and his closing summary for the entire case in the course of just a few minutes.

Samsung is asking for $6 million in damages from Apple for the two patents it accuses the iPhone maker of infringing, and spent much of its case devaluing patents generally -- even though it spent $5 million on acquiring its patents, and has spent millions more defending itself in this case with a small army of paid experts and Samsung marketers. Apple is asking the jury for nearly $2.2 billion in damages for the five patents it says Samsung infringed, arguing (like it did in the last trial) that unless the jury sends a strong financial message to Samsung, it will continue to copy technology from Apple and other companies, since there would be effectively no real penalty in doing so.

The jury picked for the trial are not considered to be very technically-savvy, with few having any background in technology at all -- one juror during interviews said he didn't even know what an iPad was, and used a 15-year-old PC for his minimal computer needs -- and none have any prior experience with software code or patents. Despite this, the attorneys and experts on both sides had to wade into the weeds of technical detail of both rather heavily throughout the trial in order to explain the value of the technology at stake.

A ruling in a different case in a different court -- a reinstatement of Apple's lawsuit against Motorola, which involved one of the patents-in-suit in the Apple-Samsung case -- threatened to complicate the final days of the trial, which had been running fairly smoothly. The Federal Court of Appeals ruling returned to Apple the right to sue Motorola for infringing its '647 patent (known as "data detectors"), but reaffirmed an interpretation of that patent Apple says is incorrect. Neverthless, Judge Lucy Koh felt obligated to use the "new" definition, which differed materially from the one the court and expert witnesses had been using up to that point.


Example of Apple's "data detectors" patent


After discussion with Apple and Samsung attorneys, it was decided that the previous testimony on that patent would not be thrown out, but each side would be allowed an extra hour to have its experts explain to the jury how, if at all, the new claim construction would affect its view and damages. Samsung argued that the so-called "Posner construction" showed that Apple was exaggerating its demands for damages, since it had asked for much less money for the same patent from Motorola in the earlier case.

Apple argued that it was under no obligation to license the patent to anyone, and that it had the right to ask whatever it wanted for damages, as Samsung copied it illegally. It also used the Posner version of the patent's meaning to show that Samsung's overly-literal interpretation of the term "analyzer server" as an independent function wasn't correct, hurting the claim that Samsung didn't infringe because it didn't use a separate "server" to make certain kinds of data (such as telephone numbers) clickable in its implementation.

In the end, the jury received a 53-page form that is to decide 45 separate questions, both of guilt of infringement (for either company) and the amount of damages (if any). Whether the jury will agree with Apple that serial infringers require a strong financial disincentive to get them to stop copying, or with Samsung that patents are usually easily worked around and not really worth much, remains to be seen. MacNN and Electronista will have a full summary of the day's proceedings later this evening.



By Electronista Staff
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