Apple kicked off its latest patent infringement case against Samsung on Tuesday, arguing that the iPhone was a revolutionary product and that by 2010, Samsung was in a crisis and resorted to copying the fast-selling rival.
“The evidence in this case will be that Samsung copied the iPhone and it also took many other Apple inventions that had not yet appeared in Apple products,” Apple attorney Harold McElhinny said during its opening arguments. Apple is seeking as much as $2 billion in damages, saying that various Samsung phones and tablets infringed on five of its patents. (For more on the case, here is our cheat sheet.)
A jury of four women and four men, chosen Monday, will decide the case. Ten jurors were initially picked; however, two jurors were excused earlier Tuesday — one who fell ill and another who said serving would pose a financial hardship.
Prior juries, ruling on different patents and earlier Samsung products, awarded Apple roughly $1 billion in damages.
McElhinny began his opening statement Tuesday, much as Apple did in that prior case, showing reviews and praise heaped upon the iPhone as well as snippets from Steve Jobs’ January 2007 iPhone introduction at Macworld.
Apple also plans to show various internal Samsung documents, some of which it previewed on Tuesday, that it says demonstrate that Samsung knew it was violating Apple’s intellectual property.
Samsung sold 37 million infringing phones and tablets in the United States, and Apple wants its share of lost profits from the products it would have sold as well as reasonable royalties on the remaining devices. That large number, McElhinny said, is why Apple is asking for so much in damages. (The company is seeking an average of $33 per phone — and as much as $40 per phone.)
“The scope of Samsung’s infringement has been vast,” he said,
A good chunk of the opening statement was used to rebut expected arguments from Samsung, including the idea that Samsung’s documents merely represent the kinds of competitive intelligence that all companies — including Apple — routinely do.
“Samsung did not stop with competitive intelligence,” he said. “Copying the iPhone was literally built into the Samsung development process.”
He also took issue with the notion that Samsung is merely using the software it gets from Google.
“This case is not about Google,” McElhinny said. “It is Samsung that has made the decision to copy these features.”
Nor, said McElhinny, are the Apple features in question unimportant ones.
“They will try to tell you our inventions were trivial,” McElhinny said. However, McElhinny said Apple will show that the patents in question are over fundamental features.
Following McElhinny, Apple lawyer Bill Lee addressed Samsung’s counter-claim against Apple as well as the history of negotiation between the two companies, including an August 2010 meeting between the two companies.
Having been accused of infringing and copying, Samsung went out and bought the two patents with which it is counter-suing Apple. Samsung is asking for rather modest damages — less than $7 million in total — which Apple says is part of a cynical attempt by Samsung to underplay the value of patents in general. Lee noted that Samsung spent more on the experts that valued its patents than it is seeking in damages.
“They want you to believe that patents are not that important,” Lee said.
Apple, meanwhile, is doing something similar, choosing not to challenge the validity of Samsung’s patents to paint the patent office as well able to determine the validity of such patents.
Samsung is slated to give its opening later on Tuesday. Apple’s first witness — if things get that far today– is slated to be top marketing executive Phil Schiller.
Ahead of opening arguments, the panel received instructions from Judge Lucy Koh and saw a court-produced video on the patent system — the same video that Samsung objected to because of its use of Apple products.
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