Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Apple lawyers contend Samsung copied iPhone, iPad designs

An attorney for Apple told a jury Tuesday that rival Samsung faced two options to compete in the booming cellphone market after Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to critical acclaim in 2007: innovate or copy.

Samsung chose to copy, making its smartphones and computer tablets illegal knockoffs of Apple's popular products, attorney Harold McElhinny asserted.

Samsung "has copied the entire design and user experience" of Apple's iPhone and iPad, McElhinny told a jury during his opening statement at the patent trial involving the world's two largest makers of cellphones.

In his opening statement, Samsung attorney Charles Verhoeven countered that the South Korean company employs thousands of designers and spends billions of dollars on research and development to create new products.

"Samsung is not some copyist, some Johnny-come-lately doing knockoffs," he said.

Verhoeven asserted that Apple is like many other companies that use similar technology and designs to satisfy consumer demands for phones and other devices.

For example, he said several companies and inventors have filed patent applications for the rounded, rectangular shape associated with Apple products.

"Everyone is out there with that basic form factor," Verhoeven said. "There is nothing wrong with looking at what your competitors do and being inspired by them."

A verdict in Apple's favor could lead to banishment of Samsung's Galaxy products from the US market, said Mark A. Lemley, a professor and director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science, and Technology.

A verdict in Samsung's favor, especially if it prevails on its demands that Apple pay its asking price for certain transmission technology, could lead to higher-priced Apple products.

The witness lists of both sides are long on experts, engineers, and designers and short on familiar names. For example, Apple chief executive Tim Cook is not scheduled to testify.

Apple Inc. sued Samsung Electronics Co. last year and is demanding $2.5 billion in damages, an award that would dwarf the largest patent-related verdict to date.

The case marks the latest skirmish between the two companies over product designs. A similar trial began last week, and the companies have been fighting in other courts in the United Kingdom and Germany.

In the patent case, US District Judge Lucy Koh last month ordered Samsung to pull its Galaxy 10.1 computer tablet from the US market pending the outcome of the patent trial. However, she barred Apple attorneys from telling jurors about the ban.

Apple lawyers contend there is almost no difference between Samsung products and its own, and that the South Korean company's internal documents show it copied Apple's iconic designs and its interface.

Samsung counterclaims that Apple copied its iPhone from Sony. In addition, Samsung alleges Apple is using some of Samsung's inventions without payment, such as a computer chip at the heart of the iPhone.

Samsung lawyers also stressed that the company has been developing mobile phones since 1991, before Apple jumped into the market in 2007.

By Paul Elias

Source: The Boston Globe

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