Claims galore at Samsung-Apple California trial

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Claims galore at Samsung-Apple California trial

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An immense amount of information, claims and counterclaims has poured out of a high-profile trial this week between Samsung Electronics and Apple over patent infringement in San Jose, California.

On Tuesday, the second day of the trial, Harold McElhinny, an attorney for Apple, told a jury that Samsung Electronics copied Apple’s designs of the iPhone and iPad during his opening statement.

Samsung had two options - innovate or copy - to compete in the booming cellphone market after Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to critical acclaim in 2007, McElhinny was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. It chose to “copy,” he said.

In his opening statement, Samsung attorney Charles Verhoeven countered that the Korean company “employs thousands of designers and spends billions of dollars on research and development to create new products .?.?. Samsung is not some copyist, some Johnny-come-lately doing knockoffs.”

Apple accuses Samsung of stealing iPhone and iPad designs and features. A verdict in favor of Apple could force Samsung to pay up to $2.5 billion in damages and have products like the Galaxy smartphone and tablet banned from being sold in the U.S.

Apple called its design veteran Christopher Stringer as its first witness. He helped create the Cupertino-based company’s iPhone and iPod during his 17 years at the company.

“Our role is to imagine products that don’t exist and guide them to life,” he told the jury. Stringer said he was upset when he saw Samsung’s Galaxy products. “We’ve been ripped off, it’s plain to see,” Stringer said. “It’s offensive.”

Samsung, the leading maker of smartphones using Google’s Android operating system, counterclaims that Apple copied its iPhone from Sony. Samsung lawyers stressed the Korean firm has been developing mobile phones since 1991, long before Apple jumped into the market in 2007.

In an unfavorable turn of event for Samsung, however, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh rejected Samsung’s bid to present images of a smartphone that it claims to have been developing in 2006, the year before Apple introduced the iPhone.

Koh’s ruling meant that “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,” said Samsung in an e-mailed statement, attaching the evidence Judge Koh had excluded. “The excluded evidence would have established beyond doubt that Samsung did not copy the iPhone design.”

Potential ammunition for Samsung is testimony from a former Apple designer, Shin Nishibori. Koh allowed Samsung to use some evidence from the former designer, who is known to have helped create a model phone influenced by Sony. His testimony will explain how the model “changed the course of the iPhone’s development,” according to a Samsung court filing.

However, the prospect of his appearing at the trial seems bleak. CNet, an Internet-based U.S. tech media, reported Monday that Nishibori has turned down a subpoena to appear in court on the advice of counsel.

The trial is expected to last approximately four weeks. Proceedings will normally be held Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but next week proceedings will go on from Monday to Friday. The trial resumes Friday with the testimony of Philip Schiller, Apple senior vice president for marketing.

Meanwhile, accidentally leaked documents Samsung had submitted to the court revealed that the Korean company “might be working on” an 11.8-inch tablet with retina display, and two Windows 8-based devices, code-named Odyssey and Marco, several foreign media reported.


By Seo Ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]

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