Crucial California trial begins in Apple vs Samsung case

The global patent war between technology giants Apple and Samsung has reached a pivotal moment, where the trial is due to begin today.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

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.


Editorial standards