Ina Fried

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After Starting With a Bang, Apple vs. Samsung Now Just as Boring as Other Patent Cases

The problem with patent cases is, sooner or later, you find yourself talking about patents.

And, unfortunately for those not in the caffeine-selling business, the Apple vs. Samsung case has hit that point.

The case started out with all kinds of fun stuff, such as Apple executives showing early iPhone prototypes and talking about the well-guarded kitchen table around which Apple’s design team creates the company’s products.

But by Friday, the witness stand was filled with expert after expert testifying about one or another legal aspect of the case. Sure, that’s what the jury needs to try to make sense of the myriad issues in the case, but even to techies, it’s fairly dull stuff.

As a reminder, Apple is suing Samsung for infringing a range of design and utility patents, as well as the “trade dress” for the iPhone and iPad. Samsung denies it infringes, and argues that Apple’s patents should also be found invalid. The company has also countersued, alleging that Apple’s wireless products infringe on Samsung patents.

On the plus side, Apple has indicated that it is nearly done with its primary case. Despite the fact that it has a number of witnesses still to call, Apple said that it may rest its case by the end of the day on Friday or sometime on Monday.

There’s still a lot to go, as Samsung has its defense to present, as well as both sides’ arguments as to whether Apple infringed Samsung patents. But things are definitely moving along.

Testimony on Friday has already included two experts who did studies on whether consumers are likely to be confused between Apple and Samsung products. Now on the stand is Ravin Balakrishnan, a University of Toronto professor who is testifying about the so-called “bounce back” patent, which covers how the iPhone and iPad react when one is scrolling through an electronic document and reaches the end.

Apple did use Balakrishnan’s appearance to make reference to several internal Samsung studies comparing Samsung products with the iPhone. One is the previously entered comparison of the Galaxy S1 with the iPhone, which goes feature by feature on the Samsung device, pointing out all of its shortcomings as compared to the iPhone.

A second study, referenced to the jury on Friday, compares the Samsung Vibrant (code-named Behold 3) with the iPhone. A third study, comparing Samsung’s tablet to the iPhone, finds it, too, is lacking in the browser, gallery and other features when compared to the iPad. Both studies refer specifically to the lack of a “bounce” when users hit the end of a document.

Balakrishnan testified that Samsung was aware of the document-scrolling problem, knew how Apple handled it, and chose to adopt Apple’s approach, infringing on its patent.

Earlier in the day, Apple-hired survey expert Kent Van Liere talked about two studies he did. The first looked at whether consumers associated two of the Samsung phones in the case with Apple’s iPhone, while the second examined whether there was confusion between the iPad and Galaxy Tab based on looking at a video of the two devices in action.

Not surprisingly, Van Liere testified there was such an association between Samsung phones and the iPhone, and a likelihood of confusion between the two tablets.

On cross-examination, Samsung lawyers took issue with Van Liere’s methodology, including his decision to show a video of the tablets rather than let the survey participants handle the devices themselves. The video also showed only a front and side view rather than allowing a look at the back of the tablets, which prominently reveal the products’ manufacturer.

The case started a few minutes after 9 am PT on Friday, as the attorneys and Judge Koh haggled over a number of issues, including the size and number of stickers being placed on the back of accused Samsung phones in the case. Samsung argues that they are covering up part of the phone’s “trade dress.”

Update: 1:23 p.m.: Apple has moved from one University of Toronto computer science professor to another. Dr. Karan Singh now on the stand testifying about a second patent. Singh says 24 Samsung products infringe on the ’915 patent, which covers a method for using one finger to scroll and a separate gesture for zooming.

1:37 p.m.: Singh is now testifying about the third utility patent at issue in the case, one covering when a user taps on an item of interest and the browser then zooms in and largely centers on the relevant portion. This patent, known as the ’163 patent, saves users a lot of “fiddling around.” (Is that a technical term?)

1:57 p.m.: Singh now making reference to another internal Samsung document, this one an exploration of different ways of handling browser zooming. According to Singh, the study concludes that double tap method of zooming was superior to its means of zooming in.

Singh also refers to a section of the earlier document comparing the S1 with iPhone, which also concludes that Samsung had room for improvement on its zooming. Singh said that later Samsung phones did so by adopting the same method as the iPhone.

2:06 p.m.: Samsung lawyer now questioning Singh in a very loud cross-examin-y voice. Samsung dinged Balakrishnan for being a frequent Apple expert (he has worked on 9 apple cases, generating roughly $600,000 in fees; now Samsung is hammering at Singh because it is his first time as a patent expert in court.

Samsung lawyer going after Singh hard now on patent elements. He gets Singh to agree that Apple didn’t invent scrolling or scaling. No, Singh agrees, the notion of scaling goes back to the ancient Greeks.

2:20 p.m.: Samsung briefly shows the gallery a patent claim with some source code that the company had wanted under seal. Judge Koh points it out, but says if Samsung wants to make that public, it was OK by her. Samsung’s lawyer said he didn’t.

“That’s fine. Whatever you wish,” Koh said.

2:32 p.m.: We’ve reached the deepest level of nerd-speak of the day. Samsung’s lawyer asks whether the motion control object cause a call operation.

A call is not an operation, Singh replies with a laugh.

No idea who, if anyone, is scoring points here. No way the jury does either.

3:28 p.m.: Samsung finally done with Singh. Next up is John Hauser, a marketing professor from M.I.T. Hauser did a pair of studies examining how much Samsung customers would pay for the features at issue in the patents in this case.

Hauser said that consumers were willing to pay a “substantial premium” for the features

“There is substantial demand for the features at issue,” he testified.

Apple then ended the testimony. Samsung objected, saying that Hauser didn’t explain how he did his research and arguing that it should be stricken from the record. Judge Koh overruled the objection, so now Samsung’s lawyers have to use their time to both explain and try to poke holes in the report.


Apple versus Samsung Full Coverage

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