Ina Fried

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Samsung Designer Says Galaxy Tab 10.1 Work Preceded iPad Announcement

Samsung industrial designer Jin Soo Kim said Wednesday that his work on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 began in October 2009, prior to Apple’s announcement of the original iPad.

Kim also made reference to a Jan 6. 2010 email that discussed work that had already taken place on that tablet. The goal of the project, Kim said, was to have the maximum display size in the least possible area.

In his testimony, Kim has talked about the thinking that went into Samsung’s design process for the tablet.

Now, this hasn’t come up in court, but Samsung actually changed its design of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 after its February 2011 unveiling at Mobile World Congress and following Apple’s announcement of the iPad 2. By March 2011, Samsung was showing off a slimmer design.

Samsung even touted the changes it made to the product at its booth at the CTIA trade show, where the thinner design was shown.

Kim, who designed car exteriors for Hyundai Motor before joining Samsung, is one of the industrial designers for Samsung’s Galaxy line of phones and tablets.

“I really enjoy what I do as a designer,” Kim said, via translator. “I’m proud of what I do. My understanding (is there are) 300 million people globally using mobile phones and other devices I’ve designed.”

Update, 1:35 p.m.: Kim now noted that the company had both a thicker and thinner design for the Tab 10.1. He’s now going into the history I mentioned, noting that it was first shown at Mobile World Congress with the thicker design.

Samsung never sold the thicker product in the U.S., Kim testified. Kim noted 80 different tablets were announced at Mobile World Congress and the company felt it didn’t have enough competitive advantage so it decided to redesign the product.

“We decided we would produce the lightest and thinnest tablet in the world,” Kim said.

Kim said that decision and the new design preceded Apple’s March announcement of the iPad 2 and noted the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is thinner than the iPad 2.

1:47 p.m.: Kim is handed several different Galaxy S II phones. Kim testified he designed each of them and that each of the models has a somewhat different design. Some of the devices have different screen sizes, Kim said, while others have keyboards that slide out.

Samsung then showed a slide showing Samsung had a range of different types of phones with varying designs both before and after the introduction of the iPhone.

Kim also was asked if he ever copied Apple in designing his phones and tablets.

“I have not,” he said.

1:55 p.m.: On cross examination, Kim agrees he is about four levels down in Samsung’s design heirarchy.

Apple’s lawyer Harold McElhinny is now quizzing him about the development of the Galaxy Tab products and the introduction of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 at Mobile World Congress 2011.

2:05 p.m.: Under questioning by McElhinny, Kim says he is not aware Samsung got feedback from Google that its tablet design was too much like the iPad. McElhinny is now pointing to a specific February 2010 email that went to various Samsung employees, including Kim’s superiors.

2:10 p.m.: McElhinny is pointing to a Samsung email that references a meeting with Google at which that company recommends changes to Samsung’s tablet. “Since it is too similar to Apple, make it noticeably different,” the email said, suggesting perhaps a landscape, rather than portrait, orientation.

A second document talks about the design similarity for the S series and the iPhone and, later, says that “Google is demanding distinguishable design vis-a-vis the ipad for the P3 (the Galaxy Tab 10.1).”

However, McElhinny said the decision that Samsung made was to keep its current design.

“That is correct,” Kim said.

McIlhenny followed up: “Is it your testimony under oath that no supervisor ever mentioned to you the discussion with Google?”

“That is correct,” Kim said.

2:17 p.m.: Samsung lawyer John Quinn is now asking Kim questions on re-direct, noting the P3 tablet referenced in the email was the version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 that was never sold.

With that, Kim was excused.

Samsung is now playing a longer part of the video of the Fidler tablet shown on Tuesday. The video talks about the emergence of a new class of computer known as tablets that was being developed at consumer electronics companies around the world.

2:28 p.m.: Samsung now calling Apple designer Richard Howarth, one of the designers that worked on the original iPhone.

Howarth is being shown a report from the 2007 Mobile World Congress trade show that discusses the iPhone and LG Prada and Samsung F700. Samsung’s lawyers show a couple additional documents and have them admitted but ask Howarth no further questions.

2:36 p.m.: Next up, Andries Van Dam is testifying about the invalidity of Apple’s “snap-back” feature. Van Dam said he is relying on two examples of prior art: The Tablecloth app that ran on Mitsubishi’s DiamondTouch system and LaunchTile. Both products were shown to the jury earlier this week.

Van Dam says he’s being paid $1,000 an hour — which he says has been his standard rate for several decades — and has racked up more than 400 hours in this case.

He says that “snapping” is a standard computer graphics feature and one that he teaches in his introductory computer science class.

Van Dam notes that he gets more requests for legal work than he takes on.

“Frankly, I much prefer doing research and teaching to legal work,” he said.

3:22 p.m.: Van Dam notes that the patent office didn’t consider LaunchTile when granting Apple the bounce-back patent.

Samsung has concluded its testimony but want the DiamondTouch set-up as part of its cross-examination. This will probably take a couple minutes. It consists of a table, a laptop and projector, among other elements.

3:25 p.m.: OK, DiamondTouch set up.

Apple lawyer Rachel Krevins is asking Van Dam if he is familiar with the device.

“I’m familiar with running Tablecloth on DiamondTouch. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for setting it up,” he said.

Krevins tried to get Van Dam to say that it was more like a touchpad for a computer than its own system. Van Dam said that it meets the definition of a touch screen display. “It’s a touch screen display,” he said. “It’s a touch screen display when properly connected.”

3:40 p.m.: Judge Koh updates the jury on a few things while DiamondTouch being put away. She tells jury that the sides have less than 10 hours combined remaining in their case, which means things should wrap up this week. They may get Monday off as the lawyers prepare the exhibits and settle various matters.

Closing arguments should be Tuesday, with each side getting 2 hours. Jurors will then have to listen as the judge reads upwards of 100 pages of jury instructions, which Koh estimated could take roughly an hour and a half. That could make for a slightly longer day than normal for the jury, but they agree to stay longer.

3:50 p.m. What’s likely to be the last witness of the day is Samsung expert Stephen Gray, a technology consultant. Gray is a former Xerox employee and was chief technology officer for NTN communications, a company that does those online interactive bar trivia games found at places like TGI Friday’s.

The silver-haired Gray said he’s fluent in a number of computer programming languages including COBOL, which he noted reflects his age.

He’s testifying about prior art for Apple patents including the one that covers scrolling with one finger and zooming with a two-finger gesture. Among the earlier works that he will rely on are the FractalZoom program as well as other efforts, such as Jeff Han’s 2006 Ted Talk on multitouch interfaces.

Samsung plays just a short clip of that tech talk. But you get to watch the whole thing:

4:09 p.m.: Gray now talking about LaunchTile. Samsung is trying to speed through his testimony but time is a ticking. It will be interesting to see how much time Samsung has left as of the end of the day.

4:37 p.m.: Samsung will end its case in chief tomorrow. Samsung has used up 22 hours and 25 minutes of its 25 hours before the jury, while Apple has used 18 hours and 1 minute.

Judge Koh said that means that the testimony will end by Friday. Apple has one witness, Susan Kare, who testified earlier, that it had hoped to recall. However, she is out of town and not available until Monday.

“The evidence is concluding this week,” Koh said. “I’m not waiting until Monday.”

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google