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Samsung Gets In Last Word Against Apple

Despite Apple's expert witness barrage and time constraints, Samsung's Tim Williams manages to breathe new life into its case.

Another Apple witness, Edward Knightly, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rice University and an IEEE fellow, invoked a patent won by Anil K. Agrawal, a civil engineering professor at the City University of New York. His detailed analysis disputed the validity of Samsung's 941 patent. "The 941 patent claims are invalid due to Agrawal," a patent issued seven years before Samsung's. "The Apple products do not infringe," he said

Now it was Williams turn on the witness stand. In the waning minutes, and in a few words, he rebuilt Samsung's claims. The Agrawal patent, he said, does something similar to Samsung's technology described in the 941 patent but it's wrong to cite it in this case. That's because it governs a transmission from a satellite receiving/transmitting station on land, "a big concrete block building," to a satellite, not a smartphone's transmission to a cell tower, he said.

Kim had shown a slide displaying a voice channel being managed by a patented method known as Hatta, instead of the Samsung patent's approach. "Hatta causes the problem that the (Samsung) 516 patent solves," Williams said under questioning by Verhoeven.

[ Want to learn more about how Apple's infringement charges threaten Samsung's smartphone designs? See Samsung's Propects Dim Vs. Apple; What Next, Android Designers? ]

Apple had also challenged Samsung's 460 patent that governs how a picture accompanies an email text. Apple attorneys had produced testimony that the Japanese Yoshita patent superseded Samsung's and Apple's use of the technology, and did not infringe due to prior art. Williams again responded. "The Yoshita approach doesn't display the image in the email. It just attaches a file. It's not the same," Williams said.

As the trial ended, the nine jurors were left with volumes of expert testimony that directly contradicted the others. Who knows how they will sort all the conflicts? But the time advantage that Apple had enjoyed at the start of Friday's testimony was somewhat obviated by Williams' few minutes on the stand.

Intel and Samsung compete in supplying baseband processors--the chips that send and receive cellphone transmissions. In trying to get Williams off the witness list, Intel lined up beside Apple in this case. That's not surprising, but it's also hard to say what impression that left with the jury.

Susan Kare, the well-known icon expert and designer of the early Macintosh icons, now running her own design firm, in her second appearance at the trial said Samsung had alternatives to copying the iPhone's icon style. As examples, she showed slides of the RIM BlackBerry Storm and BlackBerry Torch keyboards. But RIM may be an example that Samsung hopes not to emulate, given its financial difficulties.

Michael Walker, another Apple expert witness, is head of the school of natural and mathematical sciences at Kings College, London, and a former chairman of the board of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). He was also the only witness who held the title Officer of the Order of the British Empire, "an honor conferred by the monarch," he told the court.

He said Samsung had failed to live up to its obligations as a member of the standards body by failing to disclose that it held a patent on a technology that was going into the wireless 3GPP standard. Samsung said it had a right to keep the proprietary information as a trade secret under ETSI rules. It filed notice of the patent about two years after the 3GPP standard was enacted. Walker pointed out policy statements in ETSI rules of conduct that call on participants to disclose patents before standards are enacted.

He was later countered by David Teece of University of California, Berkeley's, business school, and a Samsung expert witness who explained many of ETSI members stretch the patent reporting rule into periods running "weeks, months, or years" after standards are enacted. He added with a trace of sarcasm that, as an economist, he looked at what people actually do to determine what rules they're following.

The Order of the British Empire just isn't what it used to be.

Both sides will make two-hour closing arguments Tuesday. The judge and attorneys from both sides will argue Monday about what should be in Judge Koh's instructions to the jury in the complex case.

Samsung remains vulnerable to charges of copying the iPhone's icon appearance and layout. Samsung may argue Apple doesn't own some of the symbols used in the icons, such as the Ma Bell-era handset, and shouldn't be able to restrict other companies from using them. That's somewhat irrelevant to the fact that Samsung's use of the symbols on small squares with rounded corners, with a colorful background on a 4 X 4 grid, makes them closely resemble the overall look of the iPhone's home page under patent law.

To combat that, Samsung's Verhoeven has been developing a second argument, that smartphone icons are not just design elements but functional as well. Icons shaped distinctly different from Apple's, say a Ma Bell telephone handset on a triangle instead of a rounded square, would look different from the Cupertino's company's. But they would also reduce the touchable area by half. Can Apple own the square with rounded corners shape when it has a useful function to all vendors?

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Mack Knife
Mack Knife,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/20/2012 | 4:35:22 PM
re: Samsung Gets In Last Word Against Apple
I wonder, how that Apple design expert (icons and such) manages to get any customers since it seems she can't even distinguish icons designed by Apple from those designed by Samsung.

Would you hire such a person or the company they ran to do anything more than perhaps design a product label for dog food? Watch out cats, you might be eating Alpo.
User Rank: Apprentice
8/20/2012 | 3:59:10 PM
re: Samsung Gets In Last Word Against Apple
Wow Mr. Babcock. What a strong fucking conclusion? Great Write!
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