Apple: Samsung patent case is not about Google

An Apple attorney says during opening arguments that it's targeting Samsung for litigation because it's Samsung that chose to put the infringing features in its devices, not Google.

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Apple and Samsung are battling over patent infringement. CNET

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Apple's patent infringement lawsuit against Samsung has nothing to do with Google, Apple attorneys argued Tuesday.

"You're...going to hear Samsung point the finger at Google and say -- hey, this is Android software," Harold McElhinny, one of the lead attorneys in Apple's patent infringement lawsuit against Samsung, said during opening arguments. "But don't be misled about that. This case is not about Google."

He noted that Samsung made the decision to copy Apple features and put the items in its phones. It also was Samsung, not Google, that sold the phones for a profit, and it was Samsung, not Google, that "made the corporate decision to keep on infringing Apple property," he said.

Apple and Samsung have accused each other of copying features used in their popular smartphones and tablets, and the jury will have to decide who actually infringed and how much money is due. This trial involves different patents and newer devices than the ones disputed at trial in August 2012 and in a damages retrial in November 2013. For instance, the new trial involves the iPhone 5, released in September 2012, and Samsung's Galaxy S3, which also debuted in 2012.

Along with different patents and different devices, this trial has some interesting new facets. One is that most Samsung features that Apple says infringe are items that are a part of Android, Google's mobile operating system that powers Samsung's devices. All patents except one, called "slide to unlock," are built into Android.

Suing Google wouldn't get Apple anywhere since Google doesn't make its own phones or tablets. Instead, Apple has sued companies that sell physical devices using Android, a rival to Apple's iOS mobile operating system. In particular, Apple believes Samsung has followed a strategy to copy its products and then undercut Apple's pricing. While Apple isn't suing Google, it expects that Google will make changes to its software if Samsung is found to infringe on patents through Samsung's Android devices.

Samsung, however, will argue that Google had invented those features before Apple patented them. It plans on calling Google engineers to the stand to back up its assertion.

Apple's attorneys currently are making their opening arguments in court. They have 90 minutes to present Apple's case, then Samsung will have the same amount of time for its own opening.

Almost two years after Apple and Samsung faced off in a messy patent dispute, the smartphone and tablet rivals have returned to the same San Jose, Calif., district courtroom to argue once again over patents. Apple wants Samsung to pay it about $2 billion for infringing five patents, while Samsung wants about $7 million from Apple for infringing two of its patents. The companies will give more details about damages during their opening arguments Tuesday.

The latest installment of the Apple vs. Samsung saga kicked off Monday with jury selection. The companies selected 10 jurors -- six women and four men -- from a pool of about 140 potential candidates. While the jury pool comes from people living and working in Silicon Valley, few have tech backgrounds. One works as police officer, another is a retired teacher who likes salsa dancing, and yet another is an accounting assistant. In the more tech-savvy category falls a retired software executive from IBM and an executive who works in renewable energy.

However, two jurors asked to be excused from duty at the beginning of court Tuesday. One cited illness while the other cited financial hardship. That brought the jury size down to eight, four women and four men. The jury must have six people for the trial to progress. Judge Lucy Koh joked that she would be giving the remaining jurors Vitamin C and energy drinks and warned them against going bungee jumping or taking other risks for the next month.

The companies may be asking for damages and sales bans, but what's really at stake is the market for mobile devices. Apple now gets two-thirds of it sales from the iPhone and iPad, South Korea-based Samsung is the world's largest maker of smartphones, and both want to keep dominating the market. So far, Apple is ahead when it comes to litigation in the US. Samsung has been ordered to pay the company about $930 million in damages.

There are seven patents at issue in the latest case -- five held by Apple and two by Samsung. Apple has accused Samsung of infringing US patents Nos. 5,946,647; 6,847,959; 7,761,414; 8,046,721; and 8,074,172. All relate to software features, such as "quick links" for '647, universal search for '959, background syncing for '414, slide-to-unlock for '721, and automatic word correction for '172. Overall, Apple argues that the patents enable ease of use and make a user interface more engaging.

Samsung, meanwhile, has accused Apple of infringing US patents Nos. 6,226,449 and 5,579,239, or in shorthand, '449 and '239. The '449 patent, which Samsung purchased from Hitachi, involves camera and folder organization functionality. The '239 patent, which Samsung also acquired, covers video transmission functionality and could have implications for Apple's use of FaceTime.

The Samsung gadgets that Apple says infringe are the Admire, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S II, Galaxy SII Epic 4G Touch, Galaxy SII Skyrocket, Galaxy S3, Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, and the Stratosphere. Samsung, meanwhile, says the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Mini, iPod Touch (fifth generation) and iPod Touch (fourth generation) all infringe.

The arguments by Apple and Samsung in the latest case are expected to last until April 29 or 30, and then the jury will deliberate. Court will be in session three days each week -- Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays -- though the jury will deliberate every business day until it has reached a verdict.

CNET will bring you full coverage as the trial progresses.

 

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