Apple grills Samsung chief strategist on 'beat Apple' plans

The difference between competition and copying is what both companies are fighting about. Samsung's chief strategist goes on the hot seat about it.

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Apple's main offense against Samsung so far has been to call it a copycat, and today the company tried to drive that point home with a barrage of internal documents.

Apple called on Samsung's chief strategy officer Justin Denison to speak on behalf of the company's three business arms: Samsung Electronics Corp., Samsung Electronics America, and Samsung Telecommunications America. Apple angled Denison as someone with a broad view of the company's ongoing product development plans.

After some formalities, Apple's attorney Bill Lee immediately went after Denison, asking whether Samsung had tried to emulate any Apple products. When Denison said that was not the case, Lee brought out a series of internal Samsung documents the company obtained that mentioned Apple and iPhone products. Some of those report titles were:

"Beat Apple response"
"Lessons from Apple"
"Why you should care about Apple"
"Recent Apple analysis project"
"iPhone 5 counter strategy"

Lee then brought up an example called "Relative evaluation report on S1, iPhone" a Samsung document that was dated March 2, 2010 (just a few months ahead of the launch of Samsung's initial Galaxy S smartphone), and included side-by-side photos of the iPhone's interface next to the one for the device. Apple showed instances of where Samsung had pinpointed specific software features found in the iPhone with an area called "improvements" when there was a difference between the two, and a chance to change that behavior. Once of the examples was a suggestion to alter the look of on-screen iconography, the apps users see on screen.

It's not the first time we've seen some of these pages. Apple gave a preview of this part of its strategy during opening statements on Tuesday, which served as an overview for its side of the case, which overall is expected to run another three weeks.

In cross-examination, Denison -- who joined Samsung in mid-2008 -- took a subtle crack or two at Apple though, noting some of the inherent benefits of using rounded corners and flat screens on smartphones, something Apple is taking aim at Samsung for with multiple design patents.

One simple reason, Denison said, was durability. "If you drop it, it's much more likely not to crack if it's rounded," he said. As for the screens, Denison noted that that flat screens were just economical, saying the company had manufactured a smartphone with a curved screen, and it added up in cost and materials because you needed to begin with more materials before shaping it down.

Denison joined the company after a similar position at Nokia. Prior to Samsung, Denison worked at Texas Instruments, Motorola, and Freescale Semiconductor. His testimony is the first of Apple's from a non-Apple employee. Earlier today we heard testimonies from marketing chief Phil Schiller and iOS chief Scott Forstall, and earlier this week it was Apple industrial designer Christopher Stringer, who described the beginnings of designing the first iPhone and iPad.

The trial picks back up on Monday morning with more testimony on Apple's side.

 

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