Crucial California trial begins in Apple vs Samsung case

Crucial California trial begins in Apple vs Samsung case

Summary: The global patent war between technology giants Apple and Samsung has reached a pivotal moment, where the trial is due to begin today.


The trial kicking off today in federal court in San Jose, Calif., is a patent battle between Apple and Samsung Electronics -- and the stakes are high.

samsung apple patent trial monday begins

As two of the largest consumer electronics corporations, the high-profile court case will have the eyes of media, rival firms and customers upon them today -- as over a year of legal clashes comes to a head.

Jury selection is due to begin today, as the two technology giants butt heads over apparent patent violations and a struggle for supremacy in the rapidly-expanding mobile device market.

The fight began in 2011, when Apple took Samsung to a San Jose, California-based federal court, accusing it of copying the designs of the iPhone and iPad.

Samsung counter-sued.

While Apple will use Samsung documentation to try and prove that the rival firm knowingly impeded on Apple's intellectual property rights, Samsung argues that Apple is simply using the proceedings to impede competition and maintain "exorbitant" profit margins -- according to court filings.

Since this pivotal moment, the patent war has spread across courtrooms in nearly a dozen countries.

In a statement Friday, Samsung said Apple has been "free-riding" on its technology "while using excessive legal claims against our products in their attempt to limit consumer choice and discourage innovation."

Apple says Samsung violated four of its design patents, and in addition, the company also has infringed on three technology-based patents, including how a phone recognizes different scroll and touch gestures. In contrast, Samsung says that Apple has violated mobile communication system patents -- including how a phone takes a photo and emails it, and how a device copes with music.

Samsung is facing potential bans of its Galaxy smartphone and tablet devices in the United States, following a temporary sales ban on the products set in motion by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh. Sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 was first to be placed on hold, and a pretrial ban on the Galaxy Nexus phone soon followed. Samsung appealed both rulings, and the ban on the Galaxy Nexus was stayed.

Both technology giants are seeking financial restitution from the other. Apple is seeking over $2.5 billion in damages.

The stakes for both companies are high; not only is an eye-watering amount of money at stake, but the definitions of patent-ownership across the globe may be re-drawn pending the outcome. Together, the companies account for over half of smartphone sales across the globe.

A jury of 10, coming from Silicon Valley, will hear evidence submitted by the rival firms over the course of a minimum of four weeks, and it must reach a unanimous decision if either company is to benefit by claims that have been made.

Reuters reports that in a last-moment scrabble to avoid a trial, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook and Samsung Vice Chairman Choi Gee-sung participated in a mediation on July 16 -- but settlement was unlikely.

Kevin G. Rivette, a Silicon Valley patent consultant and former vice president for intellectual property strategy for IBM told the New York Times:

"Once you determine who is the genuine innovator, and in what technologies on the product, you reset the playing field, [but one side] must have strong patents, not incremental ones."  

This is the much-debated issue in the smartphone industry, and one that this case -- as well as many others -- relies upon.

If it is decided that the Android-powered Samsung phones do infringe on Apple's patents, then not only could it affect other trials across the globe, but Google could face further repercussions and cases due to Android; something former co-founder of Apple Steve Jobs once branded a "stolen product."

In comparison, if the case swings in Samsung's favor, Apple may have to consider a future teeming with increased competition from rival firms.

Apple is represented by law firm Morrison & Foerster, which was involved in Oracle's patent battle against Google concerning its Android OS. Samsung is being represented by lawyers from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, who stand for Google and led Yahoo's lawsuit against Facebook earlier in the year.


Topics: Apple, Patents, Samsung, Smartphones

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  • Oh, goodie.

    This is liable to be another Oracle/Google fiasco.
  • Samsung doesn't have a chance

    Their whole argument is that Apple is too successful and enjoys to great a profit margin to keep it all to themselves. So what? You do not have the right to steal from them. Invent your own stuff and quite trying to ride on ideas you steal from others.
    • What part of STANDARDS ESSENTIAL patents do you not understand

      Apple's been using SAMSUNG's patents, and refusing to pay... Without those patents, you have an IPOD, not an IPHONE. So, who's stealing from whom????
      • The standards-essential patents

        This is an can of worms. It is in Samsung's interest to not open it at all, or they will potentially lose all revenue they collect from licensing those "patents". Is their smartphone business worth it? Let's take some popcorn and watch the show.

        By the way, it's not only Samsung who has 3G standards-essential patents. The revelations might be quiet interesting.
      • I'm seeing a logical fallacy here...

        "Without those patents, you have an IPOD, not an IPHONE. So, who's stealing from whom????"

        Besides Samsung is ALSO suing over "how a phone takes a photo and emails it, and how a device copes with music." How a device copes with music?!?!? Did Samsung completely miss the iPod? And "How a phone takes a photo and emails it"? Really? Riiiiiiiiight.
    • Samsung doesn't have a chance?

      Could you please elaborate on what Samsung stole from Apple?.

      You do know it's a fight over a shape?.

      Can you NOT tell the difference between Apple and Samsung product?.
      Marty Kaan
      • You do know you don't know what you're talking about, right?

        No, it is not a "fight over a shape". While your ability to regurgitate memes your found on the internet is impressive, it has nothing to do with the facts.
        But even if it were, so what? This is NOT a device patent, this is a trade dress patent, as as such, things like shape are EXACTLY what they were designed to protect. Things like the shape of the coke bottle. Patented. The shape of the Sony Vaio. Patented. Etc., etc..
        As for telling the difference, try making that claim to Samsung's lawyers, who, when pressed, could not distinguish for the judge which item was the iPad, and which one was the Samsung tablet.
    • nt

      LG Prada says hi
  • Samsung is absolutely right

    "Samsung said Apple has been "free-riding" on its technology "while using excessive legal claims against our products in their attempt to limit consumer choice and discourage innovation"

    Great quote.
    • Not really

      I love the part where Samsung is suing over how a device handles music... Never mind the fact that the iPod has been around for years and Apple is using that same exact technology in the iPhones and iPads...
    • Which is EXACTLY what the patent system is designed to afford

      This is not an issue of patent abuse, as this is exactly what the system was set up to do.
  • Where did you get your J.D.?

    @MeerkatMac...If this were truly the case, do you think Samsung would be foolish enough to waste millions of dollars on this lawsuit? Obviously, they think their case has merit. Take off your fanboy hat for a second and try to look at this objectively, for a change.
    • JD not required

      Erm, this is ZDNET, not some scholarly website full of actual experts. No, Florian Mueller isn't an expert either, just a paid opinion maker/shill. He has been wrong so many times, it is not even funny anymore.
      • True

        I'm not sure why they keep quoting Florian Muller... I wonder if he's paying ZDNet for each use of his name in one of their articles...
    • Logical fallacies

      Yes, I DO think Samsung would do that, as their corporate culture is steeped in the ways of flagrant copyright and patent infringement. They are just used to getting away with it.
      Besides, they would hardly be the first company to roll the dice in this manner.
      So, no, it is NOT "obvious that they think the case has merit", not by a long shot. Which you might have seen if not for the fanboy hat covering your eyes.
  • Apple mine, mine, mine! No competency, No competency!

    Very tired of Apple attitude next devices Surface & Android. Microsoft must let Apple die years ago!
    • PLEASE

      If you are going to post comment please make the COHERENT.
    • You do realize that MS never saved Apple, right? Right?!?

  • Ritual Dance of the Lawyers

    By the time this gets decided, Samsung will have long since moved on to different industrial designs, and everyone will have moved beyond 3G. I wouldn't even waste popcorn on it.
    Robert Hahn
  • eyewatering amount of money

    we all know (we do, don't we?) that patent law when it concerns smartphones is a pile of poo. So I look forward to some clarity.
    If it means that Apple is the only one allowed to produce smartphones, then I guess we'll all have to find a different way to communicate. If it opens up the market, then that has to be a benefit to everyone.
    The world needs for Intellectual Property to be properly protected. And I mean properly - let's not forget that Apple's usual MO is to take ideas developed by the community, and patent them. A rectangle with rounded corners? I Ask You!