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.