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White House Selfie Caps Samsung's Busy Week

Samsung tangled with Apple, drew ire from the White House, and still managed to introduce new smartphones and tablets.

Samsung had quite the week. It started with renewed courtroom drama and new tablets, took a bad turn with a photograph of the president, and concluded with more new products.

Monday, Samsung joined Apple in a San Jose, Calif., court for the second major patent trial between the two companies. Apple believes Samsung is violating five of its patents, while Samsung claims Apple is violating two of its patents. The two companies spent all of Monday selecting a jury of 10. Opening arguments began Tuesday and resumed Friday. The trial is expected to take several weeks to complete. Apple wants Samsung to pay it $40 in patent fees per offending smartphone sold -- an amount that would total nearly $2 billion. Samsung says it is innocent, though it is worth pointing out that a jury already convicted Samsung of violating Apple patents back in 2012.

Samsung followed the trial's commencement with a product launch. It debuted three new tablets that should appeal to budget-conscious shoppers. They are midrange devices that offer a mix of performance and value. The Samsung Galaxy Tab (fourth generation) comes in three sizes: 7 inches, 8 inches, or 10.1 inches. Each has dual cameras, quad-core processors, microSD card support, and Samsung's apps and services. The tablets aren't as exciting as Samsung's top-shelf TabPRO line, but they offer a nice balance for those who want something more capable than an entry-level device.

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This is where things start to get a little ugly. On Tuesday, Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz took a picture of himself with President Barack Obama, who was holding up a Red Sox jersey emblazoned with his name. The president was honoring the 2013 World Series winners at the White House. Ortiz tweeted the shot of himself with the president -- which he happened to capture with a Samsung Galaxy smartphone. Samsung has a marketing deal in place with Ortiz and ran with the image, which has been retweeted thousands of times. The White House was not pleased.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the White House generally objects to the use of the president's image for advertising, marketing, or commercial purposes. It is "looking into" the matter, though it's not clear what, if any, steps the White House can take against Samsung. Oops. Samsung recently staged an elaborate selfie taken with Ellen DeGeneres's Samsung Galaxy phone during the Oscar awards ceremony.

However, Samsung is (perhaps) hoping a new smartphone will help everyone forget the White House selfie incident.

Together with Verizon Wireless, Samsung announced the ATIV SE smartphone Friday. Think of the ATIV SE as a Galaxy S4 that runs Windows Phone 8, and you have a general idea of what it offers. Specs include a 5-inch HD screen, a quad-core 2.3-GHz processor, a 13-megapixel camera, LTE, NFC, and a 2,600-mAh battery. The device can be preordered from Verizon and will ship April 12. The Samsung ATIV SE costs $199.99 with a contract.

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Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
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John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing