Samsung denies charges as day two of infringement trial sees opening statements and first Apple witness.
Apple iPhone 5 Vs. Samsung Galaxy S III: What We Know
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Apple asserted in its opening statement of its infringement case against Samsung that the Korean firm analyzed and systematically copied one feature after another of its iPhone and iPad devices, then brought look-alike products to market.
Apple designer Christopher Stringer, the trial's first witness, was asked by lead Apple attorney what he thought as he witnessed competitors bringing phones similar to the iPhone's design to market. "We'd been ripped off. It was plain to see, particularly by Samsung. We were offended," he said.
It was the punchline that Apple had been building toward on a day of opening statements, following Monday's jury selection of seven men and three women in U.S. District Court in San Jose on the opening day of the trial. The courtroom with limited seating was packed with attorneys, journalists, and observers, as was an overflow courtroom where sound and video were piped in.
Samsung lead attorney Charles Verhoeven was soon able to issue a rejoinder to the charges in his own 90-minute opening statement. But before he could launch into it, he felt constrained to remind the jury that they needed "to keep an open mind," that there was "more to the story than what you've just heard." Unlike Verhoeven's presentations, which frequently stopped and started again as he searched for the proper exhibit, Apple's narrative flowed from start to finish with a rising indignation. It moved toward what seemed an inevitable conclusion. Verhoeven seemed to understand its potential impact on a lay jury.
Apple's lead attorney, Harold McElhinny, started out, for example, by showing a simple graphic of six Samsung phones in a wide variety of form factors prior to the launch of the iPhone at Macworld in January 2007. Next to it, he showed Samsung phones being produced by 2010. They all have the rectangular proportions and rounded corners of the iPhone form factor.
McElhinny produced what he called a Samsung design document that compared iPhones, feature by feature, with Samsung's Galaxy model and noted whenever the iPhone's features were different. And the apparent design response in each instance was to "make something like the iPhone."
"To be blunt, Samsung has not been honest about this copying," he said.
Toward the end of his 90 minutes, McElhinny poured special effort into depicting Samsung as, not only an unscrupulous competitor, but so unethical that it failed to live up to its obligation to disclose pending patents to other members of an international standards body, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), as it was required to do.
Samsung was ready, when the time came, to launch its counterattack. Nevertheless, one well dressed, young Samsung executive providing support to the legal staff was undergoing culture shock in the overflow room as he experienced the American legal system firsthand. Samsung for two decades has been a key supplier to Apple. He walked about the room, saying: "We are close business partners. Why are we slinging mud at each other?"
Samsung's Verhoeven, when his turn came, disputed the last assertion first. Samsung has made important contributions to wireless standards and under ETSI rules, confidential, proprietary information did not have to be disclosed during its application for a Korean patent. "Any suggestion otherwise is without merit," he said.
Apple had engaged in selective evidence presentation, he claimed. Yes, Samsung makes phones in a similar slim, rectangular proportion as the iPhone but it has always made a variety of phones and still does. Apple hadn't shown the six models that do not look like the iPhones that Samsung produces, said Verhoeven. In addition, Samsung had designed a phone with rounded corners and a rectangular shape before the iPhone was launched.
Apple holds 200 patents on the design elements of the iPhone, including the specifics of its user interface. It has patented the "bounce back" feature of a document being viewed on an iPhone. When the user reaches the edge of the document, instead of allowing the cursor to continue off into white space, or "getting lost in the desert," as Apple designers term it, it bounces back to the center of the document or top of a list.
Apple patented the finger-guided scrolling on the iPhone screen, and McElhinny made much of the uniqueness of two-finger gesture controls on the iPhone screen, such as the flicking of the thumb and forefinger to prompt an application to zoom in on an object.
But Samsung may have scored points with the jury by disputing Apple's claim to having invented a unique product by illustrating prior uses of finger-controlled scrolling and multiple-finger gestures. Verhoeven showed a photographer manipulating images on a light box by moving them around and prompting them to enlarge through finger gestures, contesting the claim Apple had solely invented the idea.
He cited three prior patents issued in Japan and the U.S. that captured definitions of multiple finger gestures accomplishing image movements similar to those executed on the iPhone. The Nomura patent was issued in Japan in 1998. A U.S. patent captured the ability to zoom in and out on fractal images through a technique labeled "Diamond Touch." Another finger gesture patent that had been demonstrated by Jefferson Han at the TED conference in Monterey, Calif., in 2006 was issued that year.
These constitute prior art that the U.S. Patent Office examiner failed to consider in granting Apple a patent on the finger controls of the iPhone user interface, Verhoeven asserted. "When a patent is granted, it doesn't mean the examiner knows everything. Apple claims it invented finger scrolling and use of the two-finger touch gesture, but there were other inventors," he said.
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