Exclusive: Apple-Samsung juror speaks out

Manuel Ilagan, one of the nine jurors who ruled in favor of Apple, tells CNET he thought Samsung's internal e-mails about incorporating some of Apple's technology into its devices, and the evasive way Samsung executives answered questions, was damning.

Vicki Behringer

Apple v. Samsung juror Manuel Ilagan said the nine-person jury that heard the patent infringement case knew after the first day of deliberations that they all agreed Samsung had wronged Apple.

Ilagan told CNET in an exclusive interview today that the jury had several "heated" debates before reaching its verdict yesterday. He also said nothing in the deliberation process was rushed and that the jury carefully weighed the evidence.

"We found for Apple because of the evidence they presented," Ilagan said. "It was clear there was infringement."

Asked to point to some of the more compelling evidence Ilagan said:

"Well, there were several. The e-mails that went back and forth from Samsung execs about the Apple features that they should incorporate into their devices was pretty damning to me. And also, on the last day, [Apple] showed the pictures of the phones that Samsung made before the iPhone came out and ones that they made after the iPhone came out. Some of the Samsung executives they presented on video [testimony] from Korea -- I thought they were dodging the questions. They didn't answer one of them. They didn't help their cause."

Ilagan said another area where Samsung lost the jury was claiming that Apple violated two of its patents related to 3G wireless technology. One involved the baseband chip in the iPhone and the 3G-equipped iPad. During the trial, Apple showed that Samsung had entered into a licensing agreement with Intel, which built the chips Apple used. Under that deal, Samsung was not able to sue companies that acquired the Intel chips in question. Apple's argument was credible, Ilagan said.

The jurors came to their decision in 21 hours, just under three work days. They ruled in favor of Apple on a majority of the company's patent claims against Samsung. The jury also awarded Apple more than $1 billion in damages.

Apple filed suit against Samsung last year claiming the South Korea-based company had ripped off some of the technology and designs that went into the iPad and iPhone. Samsung countersued, alleging Apple violated some of its patents.

Apple had originally sought $2.75 billion in damages. Though the jury denied some of Apple's claims, the verdict was a major victory for Apple. Samsung, which asked for $421 million in its countersuit, didn't convince the jury that Apple infringed on any of its patents and received nothing in damages.

The decision was very one-sided, but Ilagan said it wasn't clear the jurors were largely in agreement until after the first day of deliberations.

"It didn't dawn on us [that we agreed that Samsung had infringed] on the first day," Ilagan said. "We were debating heavily, especially about the patents on bounce-back and pinch-to-zoom. Apple said they owned patents, but we were debating about the prior art [about similar technology that Samsung said existed before the iPhone debuted]. [Velvin] Hogan was jury foreman. He had experience. He owned patents himself...so he took us through his experience. After that it was easier. After we debated that first patent -- what was prior art --because we had a hard time believing there was no prior art."

"In fact we skipped that one," Ilagan continued, "so we could go on faster. It was bogging us down."

Ilagan responded to those who suggested the jury came to a verdict in haste. Some are skeptical that the jury could reach a decision so quickly when they were tasked with answering more than 700 often complex patent questions. Members had spent three long weeks in court and the fact that they reached their decision just before the weekend also raised suspicions that the jury winged it at the end.

Ilagan denied they tried to hurry the process. He said jury members took their job seriously and didn't take any shortcuts.

"We weren't impatient," Ilagan said. "We wanted to do the right thing, and not skip any evidence. I think we were thorough."

He said the deliberation process moved faster once all the jury members had agreed that Apple's patents were infringed.

"Once you determine that Samsung violated the patents," Ilagan said, "it's easy to just go down those different [Samsung] products, because it was all the same. Like the trade dress -- once you determine Samsung violated the trade dress, the flat screen with the bezel...then you go down the products to see if it had a bezel. But we took our time. We didn't rush. We had a debate before we made a decision. Sometimes it was getting heated."

A bezel is a term used to describe the nonfunctional area around a digital screen, and the word also refers to an ornamental band around the front face. In Apple's first iPhone the bezel was polished chrome, a look that stayed with the device for three generations, until the iPhone 4.

During the trial, Samsung attempted to undercut the importance of the bezel. The company's lawyers turned to one of its design experts to testify that the feature was functional, and therefore it dictated form.

Another sign that the jury wasn't just checking off Apple boxes on the jury form in an attempt to get home was that the group denied some of Apple claims. They found that Samsung infringed Apple's utility and design patents with some but not all of the accused Samsung products.

Jury members also concluded that Samsung had violated Apple's trade dress for the iPhone but decided that Samsung had not violated Apple's unregistered trade dress claims regarding the iPad.

According to court documents, trade dress is the "nonfunctional, physical detail and design of a product, which identifies the product's source and distinguishes it from the products of others."

Ilagan said: "We were debating the unregistered trade dress claims. That took a while because some of the guys wanted to give [Apple] protection to round corners, the icons, and rectangles, but they were not registered. So, some of the jurors said 'Why are we playing patent office? We're not the patent office. It's not even registered.' And some of the jurors, when you look at the combination of those features, said it looks like an Apple. But we didn't want to shut out Samsung from the market because we thought 'OK, well, if Apple had tried to get a patent for all that stuff and didn't, now they wanted us to be the ones to get it for them. We didn't want to do that."

Ilagan also said there was no hometown bias. Apple is a Silicon Valley company, where many of the jury members live and work.

"We weren't going for Apple," Ilagan said. "We were going by the judge's instructions on how we should go about it, and we stuck to that. We weren't thinking Apple or Samsung."

As far as the deliberation process was concerned, each of the jurors contributed some kind of expertise or played some role that helped the process go smoothly. Hogan, the jury's foreman, once owned a company that went through the lengthy process of obtaining a patent. He also served on a jury three previous times.

The two women on the jury, Luzviminda Rougieri and Aarti Mathur, helped keep the discussion on track and within the rules, Ilagan said. One of the jurors, believed to be Peter Catherwood, is a project manager with AT&T and he helped the group add up damages, Ilagan said.

Complete coverage: Apple v. Samsung, a battle over billions

"I was vocal about the technical [issues], about the power controls, because I know that stuff," Ilagan said. "I work on that."

Ilagan has a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and worked as a systems engineer for Western Electronic and as an applications engineer for Stanford Telecom.

Four of the nine jury members have experience working for technology companies, including Intel and AT&T. Hogan worked for a hard-drive company.

Finally, Ilagan was asked if the jury understood that this was a major case and the ramifications that its decision could have on the market.

"I realized that's a big deal if Samsung can't sell those phones," Ilagan said. "But I'm sure Samsung can recover and do their own designs. There are other ways to design a phone. What was happening was that the appearance [of Samsung's phone] was their downfall. You copied the appearance.... Nokia is still selling phones. BlackBerry is selling phones. Those phones aren't infringing. There are alternatives out there."

CNET reporter Josh Lowensohn contributed to this story.

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