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Apple Execs: Samsung 'Ripped Off' iPhone

Samsung aims punches at Apple in patent infringement trial, but finds it hard to land a blow.

Apple also put Scott Forstall, senior VP of iOS on the stand. He proudly recalled his job interview at Next Computer, shortly before he graduated with a Master's degrees in symbolic systems, as the time a new major. The interviewer was interrupted by Steve Jobs, who took over the meeting and told Forstall that he would soon receive a job offer and expected Forstall to accept it. The story was greeted with laughter in the courtroom.

In 1997 Next was acquired by Apple, and Jobs moved back, taking Forstall with him. Forstall was eventually put in charge of the software team for the iPhone. No one from outside Apple would be allowed to work on it, lest word leak out to competitors what Apple had in the works.

Forstall said he scouted the company for its best and brightest, called them to his office, and told them he had a project he wanted them to work on. It would mean working harder than they ever had before and giving up many nights and weekends, probably for the next two years.

"I would find people who were true superstars in their roles ... I was taking key people from other parts of the company. If (the iPhone) didn't succeed, there would not be other products coming along to replace it," he recalled.

Chief designer Christopher Stringer, in his testimony, described 16 or 17 designers gathering around "a kitchen table" to collaborate on technology approaches and features. Forstall recalled installing new card readers and locks on one of the floors of a building on its Cupertino, Calif., campus. He dubbed the software development effort "Project Purple," and called its offices the "Purple Dorm," a place where people were working late into the night, frequently with the smell of pizza in the air.

He put a "Fight Club" sign on the door to remind team members that, like the movie of the same name, no information was to go beyond the Purple Dorm's walls.

Samsung's Kevin Johnson cross-examined Forstall, asking whether Apple inquired into other products, including Samsung's, as it mapped out the iPhone. "I believe you were concerned with the speed of the processor (slated for the iPhone)," suggested Johnson.

"Yes," agreed Forstall, at one point he was concerned about that.

"You looked at Samsung phones, right? You saw the processor?" he asked. "Yes," answered Forstall.

"Do you remember looking at a click-wheel control?" Johnson asked. The technology was not used on the iPhone, but Johnson, aiming to show Apple scrutinizing competitors' products for ideas, cited a memo from Steve Jobs about the Samsung click wheel with the comment, "This may be the answer. We could put the click wheel around the number pad," in an email message to Apple staffers, including Forstall.

Didn't that illustrate Apple's willingness to borrow ideas from competitors? asked Johnson.

"When he says that may be the answer, I'm not sure he means it's serving as inspiration (for the iPhone)," Forstall responded.

"Are you aware Apple has done very detailed teardowns and benchmarking of competitors' products, including Samsung's," Johnson asked.

"Yes," said Forstall. "But benchmarking is something different from copying and ripping something off."

The first Samsung witness, Justin Denison, chief strategy officer for Samsung Telecommunications of America (STA) also took the stand Friday. He had been responsible for investigating charges of infringement and interviewed Samsung's Korean designers at company headquarters in Korea.

Apple attorney Bill Lee challenged Denison on whether he would stand by his earlier testimony concerning all the Apple products and features under discussion in this trial. Red flags went up at the Samsung attorneys' table, as they realized the devices that had been under discussion included some that Denison had not meant to address in his pretrial deposition.

Denison at first appeared unaware that he might be walking into a trap, and Samsung's Quinn again risked Koh's disapproval by speaking out of turn, saying that Apple was seeking to impeach the witness without laying the foundation based strictly on the earlier testimony. After being gaveled back into silence, he apologized to the judge and said he hadn't meant to speak out of turn.

Koh gave him a severe stare. "I'm not sure that was unintentional," she said.

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User Rank: Apprentice
8/8/2012 | 10:55:31 PM
re: Apple Execs: Samsung 'Ripped Off' iPhone
Since Henry Ford didn't invent the car and he was the first to mass produce successful cars, it's very similar indeed. It seems like Apple claims to own the modern smart phone and the tablet PC, because they were the first to produce successful ones.
User Rank: Apprentice
8/8/2012 | 10:44:18 PM
re: Apple Execs: Samsung 'Ripped Off' iPhone
Actually, in the automotive industry design copying is very common. Take a look at the 2006 Impala, the 2004 Accord and the 2004 Fusion. I see only very minor differences.
User Rank: Strategist
8/8/2012 | 1:59:07 AM
re: Apple Execs: Samsung 'Ripped Off' iPhone
Actually, GM can't produce a car that looks like a Mustang or a truck that looks like the F-150 because -- wait for it -- the designs are protected by trademark, copyright and/or patent laws.

So, it's actually EXACTLY like the Apple vs Samsung suit. And it'll boil down to which had legally protected the design first.

I realize you were trying to slam Apple, but given the questionable pedigree of the Samsung designs (from a legal standpoint), you actually gave an example that illustrates the validity of Apple's case.
User Rank: Ninja
8/7/2012 | 6:10:36 PM
re: Apple Execs: Samsung 'Ripped Off' iPhone
I really hope you meant precedent.
User Rank: Apprentice
8/7/2012 | 2:51:16 PM
re: Apple Execs: Samsung 'Ripped Off' iPhone
If Apple thinks they have a case here then BMW should sue Toyota. Every time I see a Lexus, I see a BMW with a different logo. And I'm sure there could be a heck of a lot more similar lawsuits which could happen on the same grounds. It's a joke; a lawyer's field day.
User Rank: Apprentice
8/6/2012 | 7:00:16 PM
re: Apple Execs: Samsung 'Ripped Off' iPhone
Great point! I wonder if Ford should start a lawsuit based on the outcome of the Apple Samsung case as a president.
Leo Regulus
Leo Regulus,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/6/2012 | 6:38:03 PM
re: Apple Execs: Samsung 'Ripped Off' iPhone
"Apple Execs: Samsung 'Ripped Off' iPhone". Isn't that something like saying that GM, Chrysler and all other vehicle manufacturers 'Ripped Off Ford' for making vehicles with wheels, doors, motors etc.
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