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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Apple-Samsung patent battle headed to jury

SAN JOSE – Apple and Samsung on Tuesday got in their closing argument blows in a landmark patent case smackdown in which Google actually could get the biggest black eye.

Apple, the dominant tablet maker, and Samsung. the largest mobile phone seller, have battled for weeks in federal court here about allegations that Samsung copied Apple's mobile device designs and software.
But Samsung, in effect, is a proxy for Google because the search giant's Android software powers the Samsung devices at stake. The outcome could have implications for patent cases worldwide and for other makers of Android-powered devices.
"Anything that's bad for Samsung is bad for Google and will affect all of these Android companies," says legal consultant Florian Mueller.
Lawyers finished closing arguments late Tuesday and jury deliberations will begin Wednesday.
Apple has presented hundreds of pages of documents, as well as the testimony of scientists, executives and engineers, to support its claims that its iPad and iPhone are being copied by Samsung. Apple wants products pulled and $2.5 billion in damages.
In his closing argument, Apple attorney Harold McElhinny alleged that Samsung documents show that in three months, it was able to copy four years of Apple development. He said they show "hundreds of pages of copying directions" for icon design and functions such as tap-to-zoom that were put into the Galaxy phone and tablet line.
He also said Samsung met with Google, which advised the company to change Galaxy designs, but Samsung declined.
"The damages in this case should be large, because the infringement was massive," McElhinny said.
Samsung lawyer Charles Verhoeven, in closing, shot back that the documents don't show what Apple claims. "It's a shell game for counsel trying to mislead you," he said. "They have to prove to you with their evidence that consumers will be deceived, there's a likelihood of deception. This doesn't meet the burden of proof."
Samsung has called Apple's damage demands "absurd" and says that Apple, instead, should pay $422 million in royalties for use of some of its wireless technologies.
U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh gave jurors hours of detailed instructions. Koh paused at moments to be sure that the jury was following everything.
Jurors will have to consider a tangle of about 700 complex issues, including Apple charges that Samsung ripped off elements of its design and features such as tapping and scrolling.
The jury also will have to weigh counterclaims from Samsung that involve arcane wireless technologies.
"It's going to take the jury a while. They won't be done this week," says Michael Barclay, a fellow with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Apple's design patents are going to be the most important when it comes to monetary damages, says Mueller. "If Apple's design patents fail, forget about a billion-dollar damage award."
But the decisions on Apple's software patents could strike the most widely felt blows in the industry, because "everyone implements such multitouch features as tap-to-zoom," he says.
By Scott Martin


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