SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) – Apple and Samsung began duking it out over the iPhone, iPad and Samsung’s line of Galaxy products in Federal Court Tuesday in another patent infringement trial dubbed “the tech trial of the century.”
Apple sued Samsung in April 2011, saying the Korean company’s Galaxy cell phones and tablets “slavishly copy” the iPhone and iPad. Samsung fired back with its own lawsuit two months later, claiming Apple’s products infringe five different Samsung patents.
Since filing its federal lawsuit, Apple has criss-crossed the world accusing Samsung of copying its technology. A German judge barred the sale of Samsung Galaxy tablets in the European Union last August, and Dutch and Australian judges granted similar injunctions a few weeks later. By early 2012, most of the bans against Galaxy products had been lifted.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ordered the CEOs of the two companies into settlement talks, which fizzled in May after only two days. Attorneys from both sides filed briefs accusing the other of discovery and court order violations, even as the two companies tried to settle their differences.
The trial began Monday by seating a jury of seven men and three women, but Apple and Samsung learned Tuesday morning that Judge Koh planned to dismiss one of the female jurors. The juror’s employer refused to pay her during the four-week trial and she already “experienced panic attacks and anxiety,” Koh told the courtroom.
Apple lead attorney Harold McIlhenny of Morrison Foerster — the same firm that represented Oracle in its unsuccessful copyright and patent infringement action against Google — opened the trial by showing the jury photos of a progression of Samsung phones from 2006 to 2010. He noted the change in design and style of the phones beginning in 2007, the same year Apple introduced the first iPhone.
“How did Samsung move from its 2006 phones to the phones it sold in 2010?” McIlhenny asked. “Samsung market research in 2006 and 2007 indicated its users wanted iPhones.”
McIlhenny pointed to an internal Samsung memo from 2010 in which executives admitted that “the iPhone has become the standard … Samsung faces a crisis of design.”
Samsung’s Galaxy S cell phone is “a complete iPhone clone,” McIlhenny told the jury. “Samsung had two choices: It could beat Apple fairly in the marketplace, or it could copy Apple’s products. Samsung not only copied the outward appearance, they also copied internal details.”
The Apple attorney also emphasized that Samsung is not just a competitor, but also one of Apple’s largest part suppliers.
“Apple suddenly found itself competing with its largest client,” McIlhenny told the courtroom.
Samsung infringed four of Apple’s design patents — its flat, transparent front face, bezel edge, rows of square icons with rounded corners and the lowest-row “dock” icons — in its Galaxy phones, and the iPad design of rounded corners and edge-to-edge transparent surface on its Galaxy tablets, according to McIlhenny. And Samsung’s products infringe on three of Apple’s utility patents as well, including the “bounce-back” feature and the interpretive touchscreen that differentiates between user gestures.
“Samsung describes these inventions as ‘trivial,'” McIlhenny said, adding that Samsung’s infringements are willful.
“We are starting this trial because Samsung refuses to stop using Apple’s patents,” McIlhenny said.
“You might ask, ‘Why bother? Apple’s making billions of dollars — why are you making a federal case of it?’ Because Samsung is taking our property,” he argued.
Samsung’s lead attorney, Charlie Verhoeven, had a different take in his opening statement.
“Many patents before the iPhone released in 2007 had the same design elements. Apple has no right to claim a monopoly on a rectangle with a large screen,” he said.
“Samsung did and still does make a wide variety of phones for a wide variety of people and tastes. Samsung is not some copyist, some Johnny-come-lately. Samsung is a major tech company and it does its own designing,” Verhoeven added.
As to Apple’s claim that Samsung ripped off the iPhone and iPad designs, Verhoeven noted that Samsung supplies “the guts-26 percent” of what makes the iPhone work, makes the iPad’s A5X processor and is “the sole provider of the much-touted retina display.”
“There’s nothing wrong with being inspired by someone else’s design. It’s called competition,” Verhoeven told the jurors. “Apple itself was inspired by Sony’s style and functionality, so much so that Apple changed course with its iPhone.
“Everyone benchmarks against each other in this business,” Verhoeven said.
Verhoeven concluded by telling the jury that Apple’s business has not been hurt by the companies’ product similarities.
“There is no evidence of anyone confusing a Galaxy tablet for an iPad. There is no dilution in the marketplace-the marketplace is full of rectangle tablets with touchscreens and rounded corners,” he said.
After lunch, Apple’s first witness, Senior Vice president of Marketing Phil Schiller, told the courtroom that the company does not rely on market research. “We don’t use customer surveys or focus groups,” he said, echoing his late boss Steve Jobs’ sentiment that “it isn’t the consumer’s job to know what they want.”
Schiller returns to the stand Friday when the Apple-Samsung trial resumes. But before Tuesday’s session ended, Apple attorneys told Judge Koh that Samsung executives did an end-run around her and leaked barred evidence to the media.
Tech news site CNET reportedthat Samsung also issued a statement lambasting Koh for excluding evidence that allowed Apple to “inaccurately argue to the jury that the F700 was an iPhone copy, [while] Samsung was not allowed to tell the jury the full story and show the pre-iPhone design for that and other phones that were in development at Samsung in 2006, before the iPhone. The excluded evidence would have established beyond doubt that Samsung did not copy the iPhone design. Fundamental fairness requires that the jury decide the case based on all the evidence,” according to the statement.
Apple said it is concerned that jurors may see the excluded evidence and Samsung’s official statement.
Koh ordered Samsung’s lawyers to file a brief naming who drafted the statement and which of its legal team authorized the leak.