Ina Fried

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Men in Black Suits II: Apple-Samsung Retrial Suffers From Sequel’s Curse

The original Apple-Samsung trial had it all — a gripping plot, stellar cast and lots of intrigue.

Samsung Apple Men In Black Suits II

Unfortunately, like all too many sequels, the current retrial feels like just a rehash of something that was admittedly a pretty good show the first time.

Where the initial trial brought revelations including new sales figures, early iPhone prototypes and juicy insights into how Apple designs its products, no such new ground is being traversed this time around.

And, while the last trial was about dueling perspectives on innovation, this one is just about money. The first jury already decided which Samsung products infringed on which Apple products. But the judge concluded that the original jury erred in how it calculated a portion of the more than $1 billion in damages it awarded. Apple said Samsung owes it an additional $379 million in damages for the products at issue, while Samsung said $52 million is a proper figure.

From a cinematic point of view, the best thing one can say about this installment is that it is short. Each side is allowed only eight hours of witnesses, compared to the 25 hours both parties had during the original trial. Testimony is due to wrap up today, with closing arguments expected Tuesday.

Perhaps the biggest star in the retrial, Apple marketing head Phil Schiller, took the stand late last week, beginning his testimony Thursday and wrapping up on Friday morning. But most of what he said dealt with the kinds of details surrounding the iPhone launch that he shared the last time he was on the stand.

On the bench is the always entertaining Lucy Koh, the same federal judge who presided over the first case. Koh, a rising star, is known for her sharp wit and strict adherence to the clock. She famously suggested during the first trial that one of Apple’s lawyers was smoking crack if he thought he had time to call as many witnesses as he proposed.

The supporting cast is also familiar, including many of the same lawyers, expert witnesses, etc.

Like any big Hollywood production, though, there were at least enough good moments to make for a decent trailer.

Some of the best drama came before the trial itself, during jury selection. Judge Koh dismissed 11 prospective jurors found chatting about the case. Also not on the final panel were one potential juror who called Apple a bully and another who was a former Apple store employee and current stockholder but had nonetheless promised to be impartial.

Of those who actually made it onto the jury, there are five with iPhones, one Sony user and a Nokia owner, but none with Samsung phones.

Witness testimony was largely a rehash of the first trial, though Schiller got in a couple zingers, including when he was asked if he recognized a certain Samsung tablet. “I can’t tell. From here it looks like an iPad to me.”

As most of the case is about damages, the most important witnesses — if not the most exciting — are the experts who try to put numbers on how much Samsung should pay.

There was considerable back and forth concerning Julie Davis, one of Apple’s key experts. On the stand, MIT professor John Hauser, another of Apple’s expert witnesses, extolled her qualifications, noting that she was in the accounting hall of fame.

Wildcat

“Not to disparage,” Samsung’s lawyer said, “but she’s in the Hall of Fame of Accounting at her college, Kansas State.”

“It’s still a pretty impressive honor,” Hauser said.

“I’m glad you are impressed by it,” Samsung’s lawyer said.

Samsung’s expert, Michael Wagner, testified that he held Davis in the highest regard, both personally and professionally. He then spent the rest of the testimony disagreeing with just about every part of her report, though he did give Davis a smile as he exited the stand.

For those who want to catch what’s left of the courtroom drama, the final testimony is expected this morning, followed by summations on Tuesday. But if you miss this week’s action, don’t worry. Another sequel is in development, with a new trial scheduled for next year in the same courthouse to decide if a new crop of products violate various Apple and Samsung patents.


Apple versus Samsung Full Coverage


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