SAN JOSE – Another day in court and another couple Wows!
It turns out serial entrepreneur Tim A. Williams--a co-founder of startups such as SiBeam and BeeCube—was the witness Intel objected to yesterday. Intel said it was not informed in a timely way and Williams had access to its source code.
Today we find out Williams is an expert witness these days—among other things--and was testifying he has seen Intel design documents and source code for its former Infineon Gold baseband processor. The chip implements the 3GPP release 6 standard on which Samsung has two patents and is suing Apple for infringing by using the basebands in the iPhone 4 and iPad2—its latest hottest products.
Even more fascinating is the chess match Williams and Apple attorney Bill Lee have under Lee’s cross examination. Lee needs to make Williams look bad, but this smart engineer and businessman has been through the mill of chip design, standards, source code—and the expert witness gig.
Expect a story in the near future about their wonderful chess game and what I read in the tea leaves of their exchanges. I think Williams likes this game, in part because the attorneys really can't follow the engineering depth Williams can go to for stuff like today's patent on alternate e-bit interpretation. (Note: scroll down on hyperlink for details.)
For right now—it’s lunch break in court—here’s one interesting snippet:
Lee tries to show Williams’ testimony in his deposition to establish a point Lee cannot drag out of Williams on the stand. In essence he is trying to (in legal parlance) impeach his testimony.
Lee shows the deposition quote that seemingly contradicts an earlier point Willaims made and pushes Williams to answer ‘yes or no’ if this was his testimony “under oath.”
Williams: I am also under oath today and I don’t see how this answer supports your hypothesis.
Cool as a cucumber, even a faint smile on his face.
He gets paid good money for being able to bring deep engineer understanding, translate that to a jury of average Joes and Janes and take no bull from hard-nosed lawyers like Lee. Retained 50 times, 20 in the past year, he charges $550/hour and made a million buck last year and the year before for his work.
Back to one of the points in the article; patents and standards aren't always as clear cut as one would like.
Lots of companies pay engineers for patents, but patents can take time to file and in the meantime the standards work progresses. So, do the standard body's rules require disclosure of applications or just awarded patents?
Once the paperwork is filed for the application the engineer likely won't know the status until he gets his payment, which could take a couple of years, or maybe not at all.
Infineon only became Intel recently, you need to look back to 2007 and whether Infineon had cross-licensing or not.
Noting that the baseband is worth $10 is irrelevant. IP holders will go after phone manufacturers if they can, not competitors, because they get royalties on higher ASPs (ie. their IP + screen + battery + ...). Fair? No, but that is the way the industry has always worked.
Isn't suing the upstream customer (Apple for using an Infineon chip) incompatible with the Exhaustion Doctrine
similar to the First Sale Doctrine for copyright? And don't parts makers generally indemnify parts users in the electronics biz? It seems like the au courant thing to do, ala Samsung v. Apple here, or Google/Motorola for other IP snuck into standards, is to ignore the exhaustion doctrine and just go after the deepest pockets...
Actually Intel does have a cross-license with Samsung, something Apple attorneys were quick to point out. Apple suggested Samsung can't charge Apple with being wrong when it was an Intel chip made under cross license.
I believe there is still some virgin legal territory about suing your infringer's customer (Quanta case?)
In addition, Apple noted its a $10 baseband chip and Samsung is seeing ~$430 million in damages for the infringement.
Actually, Apple used Infineon in early versions of the iPhone. The reason this is being brought up is because unlike Qualcommm, to my knowledge Infineon does not have a cross-licensing agreement with Samsung, so Samsung cannot be accused of double-dipping here and is full within its rights to demand royalties for essential IP held by Samsung on these early iPhones sold by Apple (and there were a few of them).
Yes, it it common place to be compensated for patents filed and obviously the goal is always for essential IPR. Why are you surprised by this? Non-disclosure of such IPR is not so common, but I'm sure it happens.