Apple, Samsung patent case headed to jury

August 21, 2012

The much-watched patent case between Apple and Samsung is headed to jury, after executives failed to agree on a resolution in a final phone conference.

Bloomberg reported that a lawyer for Samsung told U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh on Monday that Apple chief executive Tim Cook and Samsung corporate strategy chief Gee-Sung Choi had spoken about the case but could not reach an agreement. Choi was the company’s chief executive during pretrial negotiations.

And so, the case goes to the jury, which must reach a unanimous verdict on whether Samsung infringed on seven design and software patents held by Apple, as well as on counterclaims that Apple infringed on five technology patents held by Samsung.

Apple and Samsung have created complex worksheets for the jury to determine whether devices infringe on the patent and trade dress claims and to assess any damages the companies should owe, according to jury forms posted by the Wall Street Journal.

The highly technical material may be confusing for the jury. Koh has repeatedly asked the companies to come to a resolution on their own, telling the San Francisco-based court, according to a report from Electronista, that she was “worried we might have a seriously confused jury here.”

Meanwhile, another case between Apple and Samsung is moving ahead in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington. Samsung is trying to overturn an order for a pretrial ban against imports of the Galaxy Nexus, a phone that Apple contends improperly copied its unified search feature.

Bloomberg reported that Samsung lawyer John Quinn argued that the Nexus made up a “minuscule” portion of the market and was no threat to iPhone sales. But Apple attorney Mark Perry said that the feature takes direct aim at the Siri personal assistant software in the iPhone 4S.

According to the report, Google, which makes the Android operating system used by the Galaxy, weighed in on the case. Google said that the search function was “a very minor aspect of the Galaxy Nexus smart phone’s overall functionality, which was never shown to drive sales.”

Google itself recently filed a new suit against Apple through its Motorola subsidiary at the International Trade Commission, adding yet another case to the expanding pile of patent complaints between Apple and Android handset makers.

Yet in comments at the Technology Policy Institute’s conference in Aspen, Colo., on Monday, Google’s public policy director Pablo Chavez said that Google believes the disputes and lawsuits harm the industry and average smartphone and tablet buyers.

Chavez said, “We think that these patent wars are not helpful to consumers,” according to a report from CNET. “They’re not helpful to the marketplace. They’re not helpful to innovation.”

Related stories:

Google’s Motorola files new suit against Apple

Apple, Samsung set to wrap up cases

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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