SAN JOSE, Calif. – As foreman of the jury that awarded Apple just over $1 billion in its patent infringement suit against Samsung, Velvin R. Hogan returned time and again to his experience as an electrical engineer. Now at the center of a media blitz, Hogan, who holds two of his own patents, talked at length about the case he calls the highlight of his career, one idea sometimes flowing into the next.
The jury “got hung up the first day” debating the validity of one of Apple’s patents, “so I said let’s leave it for tonight,” he said Monday (Aug. 27) in an interview with EE Times.
In days of testimony, lawyers for both sides presented world-class experts who showed multiple pieces of what they claimed were prior art invalidating each other’s patents. “When I got home I was watching a movie on TV, but not really watching it because my mind was going 90 miles an hour thinking about this patent, claim by claim,” he recalled.
“My light bulb moment came that Wednesday night when I asked myself if I could defend [the Apple ‘381 software patent], and I realized I could, so in the morning I explained this to my fellow jurors,” the 67-year-old Hogan said.
After that, the group fairly quickly found all the Apple and Samsung patents in the case were valid. As instructed the jury then considered Samsung devices one by one, deciding that most of them willfully infringed Apple’s patents and trade dress, or look and feel, levying $1.05 billion in damages on Samsung.
Hogan’s “light-bulb moment” was a flashback to his experience defending his patent on an alternative to the MPEG 4 Part 10 video codec.
The patent “took seven years to be granted—the last three-and-a-half years debating with the patent examiner my claims, and ultimately I won. I learned in that exercise what’s needed to defend a patent against prior art,” he said.
Hogan spent much of his 40+ year career building test equipment and servo components for the emerging hard disk drive industry. He refused to join Samsung’s lawyers and some observers who scoffed at Apple’s claims on the industrial design of iPhones and the look and feel of their user interfaces.
“If you accept the premise of intellectual property--regardless of what it is—it needs to be protected,” he said.
“I confess a few years ago when Congress let the patent office authorize trade dress and design patents I was quite frankly not sure it was the right thing to do, but after being in this trial my position changed--IP needs to be protected if it is legitimate,” he said.
At one point, “we picked one juror to chose each [accused] product, turning it on close to his chest in a darkened jury room and not telling us which one it was. He turned one [device] around quickly and then another and then both--it absolutely made it clear” whether the devices infringed or not, he said.
Hardly sounds like a valid test to me. Lights low, flash a playing card at 5 feet, which card was it? Phones are meant to be held in your hand, they are designed to be held in your hand. People don't use phones any other way.
"we picked one juror to chose each [accused] product, turning it on close to his chest in a darkened jury room and not telling us which one it was. He turned one [device] around quickly and then another and then both--it absolutely made it clear” whether the devices infringed or not, he said." ..
These guys absolutely made it clear they're not qualified for this trial.. I wonder whether they can do the same for Macbook and other window notebook in the darkened room, where macbook has it's own trade dress claim. if cannot say one to another, then macbook also infringes look and feel of other notebook??
Actually, the tablet you refer to was one of the prior art items Samsung introduced in the case.
The jury decided none of the Samsung tablets infringed because the design was significantly different from the iPad design patent.
This is a crazy verdict, some of the patents in question are to do with finger scrolling, tap to zoom, pinch to zoom etc ('381 included)... Companies other than samsung have implemented these interactions and more in other devices over the years but unlike apple they have never seen fit to patent them as they just made sense!
If you can patent these "obvious" interactions then you might as well patent the light switch on the wall and make all other manufacturers pay out for that too!
This decision was a stupid verdict which as usual in all patent disputes will likely end up simply costing the end consumer more. Yes samsung copied apple in terms of the UI and the device shape but who does'nt copy or directly compare against competitor products anymore to get an edge on the competition! Designs are copied and improved upon each and every day in the world - car manufacturers for example are building more and more hybrid vehicles, they all copy the same basic principle but are implemented by independent companies, why is that not considered a patent breach? It is madness that companies like apple can patent these seemingly obvious and uncomplicated interactions and then through moronic actions like this court case and the stupid decisions of the jurors they can win!
Absolute stupidity, apple should be slapped on the hand for patenting these in the first place and the patents should be cancelled. Samsung should be slapped for being dumb enough to directly copy apple mind you I doubt it did not hurt/impact apple in any way so 1 billion reward is insane!
Another case of grand patent wars (and apple) stifling innovation. Also the 8 devices that apple are seeking to ban are no longer sold in the USA, they are old devices so this is clearly apples "I told you so now pay up" moment!
Many innovations seem obvious after you see them. If pinch and un-pinch for zooming in & out are so obvious, and the bounce-back when scrolling to the edge of a page is so obvious, then where is the prior art? You said other devices implemented these interactions over the years, but nobody bothered to patent them.
Which other devices? I'm curious, because I believe if you took a poll of millions of consumer electronics users and asked them about these features or interactions, the majority would say they first saw that on an Apple product.
It's pretty interesting to me that this engineer and inventor made it to the jury. I've heard previously that engineers are nearly always excused from juries because the lawyers don't want their analytical minds involved. Here's a guy who has his own experience both inventing things and patenting them.
People who went through the process of getting a patent are completely biased. If patents weren't weapons to use against potential "enemies" then going through the process was stupid. People don't want THEIR decisions to be stupid so they will defend others who made the same decisions.