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.
Technology patents need to be limited to 3 years since that is the lifespan of most new innovations.
If the patent is not in application within a reasonable period (18mos?) then it should be released preventing obstructive use of patents.
Lawyers are parasites. They create nothing of value and consume the time and money of those who are creating value, not to mention stifling innovation. I find any company larger than the individual inventor (who can't afford a lawyer anyway), that uses the legal system to compete or eliminate a competetor, nothing less than reprehensible. Haven't we figured out that all innovation has a foundation of the work that preceded ours. I very much dislike the fact that this useless stuff is found newsworthy in a technical arena.
Yet, it seems to me Apple had a unique and big Aha! moment in seeing how the smartphone should include an open Web browser with an interface that is simple to use based on a multitouch screen--the Web in your pocket.
I don't think anybody really got that before them.
Don't they deserve some patent protection on such a big Aha!
Isn't that what the patent system is all about?
Les is correct in that, like most bodies of law, the patent system is flawed. In fact, I have yet to come across any area of law that is perfect. On the other hand, the patent system is invaluable for small companies and startups. It helps them procure funding, create revenue streams, and protect their newly-hatched technology from being reverse-engineered. Obtaining patent protection is often a make-it or break-it event for startups.
Also, even if large, established companies (like Apple and Samsung) don't need patents to procure funding, a strong patent portfolio can help those companies fend off litigation or reach a settlement more quickly.
Three years seems to be way too short a period compared to the current 20 years protection. Companies/Individuals may not be willing to devote as much resources to creation and innovation if they will only be able to recoup and benefit from their patents for such a short time. Your argument for 3 years does not make sense: If the lifespan of most new innovations is about 3 years as you say, then why would others still want to copy it? It must still be of significant value if after 3 years others still want to use it.
I agree with David Bley that lawyers are parasites that don't create any value. They are SOMETIMES necessary though to protect space where value can be created. That's a very complex issue.
As far as Rick's aha! argument is concerned we do have to look at the concrete. Apple has been an innovator and should not be blatantly copied to the extent that they cannot fund further innovation.
The issue as I see it in this case is that Apple is stifling progress.
But we can't solve the big issue that technology has outstripped the economic, political and legal structures of current society. There needs to be fundamental change.
Of course (once the lawyers all get paid) the end result of this battle is likely to be the usual cross-licensing. Reality is, even if one side (Apple in this case) starts out looking for damages, these wars often get resolved not by a judge or jury, but by the lawyers for the two companies doint tit for tat to grant each other more or less what they are already doing. Often the original goal of such lawsuits is nothing more than to force the other side to share its patents. Lawyers get rich, both sides get what they want. They still compete. The small guy who doesn't have the portfolio or army of lawyers generally lets left out in the dark and cold.
Quite frankly, that is the biggest reason companies collect portfolios of patents. It's a grown up version of kids trading baseball cards!