SAN JOSE – Samsung sketched the outlines of its countersuit case against Apple in opening statements here Tuesday. The Korean giant showed prior art on all the patents Apple claims it infringes and details of why it believes Apple infringes a handful of its patents.
The case puts in stark relief the differences between the two companies that have deep links in the smartphone market. Samsung is not only one of Apple’s fiercest competitors but one of its largest component suppliers.
“Samsung is an innovator and a competitor--it hasn’t done anything wrong,” said Charles Verhoeven, lead attorney for Samsung in the trial in San Jose’s U.S. District Court.
For example, Verhoeven showed the LG Prada phone and three Japan and Korean patents on handsets with an iPhone-like shape. He said they are prior art that invalidates Apple’s ‘087 design patent. In addition he noted differences between the details in the Apple patent and the Samsung handsets Apple claims infringe it.
“An ordinary observer can tell the difference. There is no infringement,” he said.
Verhoeven also showed multiple examples of prior art on three Apple utility patents it claims Samsung infringes. They included a video of Jefferson Han in a TED talk demonstrating a multi-touch display using zoom and scroll gestures that pre-dates an Apple patent on the gestures.
“For each of these three very simple utility patents, others did it before [Apple, and when that is the case], you don’t have an invention,” he said.
In contrast, he showed details of five Samsung patents he claimed Apple infringes. They include two US patents (7,447,516 and the ‘941 patent) that boost data rates and reduce dropped calls over 3G networks.
The patents became part of the ETSI3G networking standard, implemented in baseband processors from Intel (formerly the Infineon wireless group) and used in iPhones and iPads, he said.
“This is much more fundamental than neat little things you can do on a touch screen,” said Verhoeven.
Apple contends Samsung failed to disclose its patents on the standard until two years after it was frozen, breaking ETSI rules. The iPhonhe maker also claims Samsung sought a royalty of roughly $12 per iPhone for the patents, an amount equal to or greater than the cost of the baseband chip itself, it said.
Separately, Verhoeven alleged Apple infringes three media patents. They include patent 7.577.460 on using a handset to send a photo in an email, as well as a music and another photo patent.
Apple’s lead attorney questioned Samsung’s motives, noting it made no mention of the infringement until after Apple sued Samsung, “as if our patents weren’t any good,” said Verhoeven. “We had a major business relationship with Apple,” he said.
“Samsung isn’t in the habit of suing its business partners and isn’t the one who launched this litigation,” he added.
A diverse ten-person jury will decide the issues between the two tech giants. Testimony is expected to continue through about August 17.
The opening statements highlighted several differences between the companies. While Apple rolls out one new smartphone and tablet a year, Samsung may ship dozens of them using a wide variety of designs. Samsung routinely surveys customers and mines the findings to direct new product development, whereas Apple relies on the instincts of its engineers and marketers, conducting no user surveys.
The presentations also made clear how Apple is focused on delivering innovation in the form of user experiences often expressed in software and casings defined by a small team of elite industrial engineers. Samsung has clearly been studying Apple’s techniques, but also spends significant engineering time developing technologies and patents around broad industry standards.
Interesting discussion, but it has slipped away from the interesting question: How do we fix the USPTO? The patent office is grossly understaffed and patent inspectors are often under-educated. The result is that far too many patents are accepted when they should be invalidated.
The suggestion that patents be limited to 500 a year is extreme, but it does recognize the essential problem that inspectors don't have the time to adequately vet applications. Another comment about the excessive generality of some patents is on the mark, but a great many patents focus on tiny points of remarkable triviality. These applications clog the system and really have no value for the company making the application because many alternative (and equally trivial) solutions often exist.
sranje: My Visor Phone played MP3s and browsed the web with a graphics browser, downloaded/played music, and books, and audible content...
My MPMan played MP3s and Audible content.
So, doesn't prior art prevent patenting these items as much as 5 years later?
Apple has every right to defend its IP and creativity.
We would all still use Nokia's "smartphones" -- without Apple's reinventing MP3s, phones, tablets, and ultrabook PCs
All glory to Apple - its enforcing product pre-launch secrecy and IP protection are fully understandable
All this about patent fights is like the gossip of the high-tech industry. I even think is something to be a shame of. Patent infringement by itself is evidence that company B has less wits than company A and that's why instead of innovating on it's on way and style it copies. But further, when one realizes the kind of things that are being patented, one can't help thinking that the USPTO is granting patents to very simple and lame things. This is perhaps talking about corruption as a comment above mentioned "persuading" to receive a patent. As any field in human society, being powerful sometimes allows for bending the rules in favor.
And, haven't you question if there's another reason behind the patent litigation? perhaps this is a way to affect in a side-way the competitor and ensure the position in the market. isn't it?
Most lawyers are naught but hired guns doing the biding of those who buy their services. It is the people that hire the lawyers to do the fighting and that run the companies and that buy the politicians and pervert the legal system to ensure their power and profits that need to be restrained who are the parasites.
The company is the one making the investment and providing the environment and the tools that enable the employee to be an inventor -- not to mention also paying the employee for doing that work.
But this is not the only reason that employers require employees to assign over all of their inventions that were created while employed at the company. Imagine that you invent something that if you quit your job and took your invention elsewhere, or started your own company, could do great harm to your previous employer's business. If they didn't own the rights to your patent, they would effectively have paid you and made an investment that was against their own best interest.
Repackaging is indeed patentable. In many patents, the claimed invention is an innovative combination of technologies that already exist -- and are individually patented -- such that the innovative combination enables a new application or a new solution to a problem.
I think the quality of the issued patents is the issue, not the quantity. If an innovation is truly unique and therefore patentable, then why stifle innovation by arbitrarily limiting these to a maximum number of patents per year? That's analogous to limiting your inbox to 500 messages. Some of those are spam, but there certainly are many valid messages too.
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.