SAN JOSE – A user interface expert testifying for Apple said as many as 21 Samsung devices infringe Apple U.S. patent 7,469,381. In its $2.5 billion infringement case, Apple also introduced more internal Samsung documents into evidence showing it had studied and wanted to emulate features of the patent.
The ‘381 patent, known as the bounce back or rubber band patent, solves a problem well known to user interface experts, said Ravin Balakrishnan, a computer science professor at the University of Toronto. Smartphone users can easily become lost or think their device is frozen when they scroll beyond the edge of content like a Web page.
The ‘381 patent from Apple employee Bas Ording solves the problem by creating a bounce back effect when users go beyond the edge of a picture, contact list, Web page or other piece of content. Samsung internal documents and other experts have described the effect as “fun” and “whimsicsal.”
The patent “gives the illusion of a very lively system and you don’t disappear into a desert fog” at the edge of a screen, said Balakrishnan.
Apple entered at least three documents into evidence in which Samsung software groups compared usability features of the iPhone, iPad2 and its devices. They included descriptions of the bounce back feature and instructions to adopt a similar feature.
In one document, Samsung referred to the Web browser in its Behold III handset as “dull because no special effect is provided when dragging a Web page to the edge.” It recommended “providing a fun visual effect.”
“It’s very clear to me from these documents Samsung has studied this problem, recognized its limitations compared to the iPhone and iPad that had a better solution and in subsequent versions of Samsung products in the market that exact same functionality has been implemented,” said Balakrishnan.
He said the phones he found infringing the patent include the Samsung Vibrant, Gem, Captivate, Continuum, Droid Charge, Galaxy Ace, S i9000, S II i9100, Indulge and Infuse 4G.
Under cross examination, Samsung attorney Kevin Johnson showed as many as 15 Samsung devices accused on infringing the patent use alternative techniques to the bounce back feature, at least on some applications such as Web browsers. Johnson suggested each device needs to infringe the patent in a consistent way to be found as infringing.
Balakrishnan agreed the Samsung devices Johnson showed did not appear to infringe in the apps he demonstrated. However he said those devices still do infringe the patent in other apps such as calendars and photo galleries.
Balakrishnan said he has been retained by Apple in nine cases over the past three years, earning about $600,000 for his testimony to date.
Johnson attempted to put on the record results from another case where a judge called into question the expert's testimony. Judge Lucy H. Koh quickly came down on Johnson, reminded him she had excluded that information from this case, “unless you want to open the door to other rulings,” she said, suggesting elements Apple could then bring in that might hurt Samsung’s case.
Johnson ended his cross-examination. Samsung is expected to call its own expert, a colleague of Balakrishnan to testify for its case.
The entire patent system is a joke. Most patents can be easily worked around within the limitations allowed by law. Which is why samsung could easily copy, "multi touch" and other "gesture recognition" techs introduced by Apple.
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