Apple's Phil Schiller: Samsung's copying makes people 'question' our innovation

The company's marketing chief tells court that Apple suffered market damage after developing the iPhone because Samsung illegally copied its smartphone patents.

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Apple's Phil Schiller being questioned on Tuesday. Vicki Behringer

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Apple is famous for its high-profile product launches -- choreographed and well-practiced onstage performances. So it came as no surprise that when Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller took the stand at a California court on Tuesday, he mostly stuck to the script.

With his company embroiled in a legal battle over patent infringement with Korean-based handset maker Samsung, Schiller rehashed the same defense that he offered when the two companies last met in court in November, also over a patent dispute. Namely: Apple took on a lot of risk when it decided to develop the iPhone, and Samsung copying Apple's features has hurt his company.

"I believe it has caused damage for Apple in the marketplace. It has caused people to question some of the innovations we've created and Apple's role as the innovator," Schiller said."That challenge is made harder in the copying."

The trial, which began Monday, is just the latest in the dust-up between the two tech giants. The legal battle began in 2011, when Apple sued Samsung, claiming the Korean handset maker had ripped off the look and feel of the iPhone for its own smartphone designs. Samsung countersued. A trial in August 2012 and damages retrial in November 2013 both favored Apple. So far, Samsung has been ordered to pay Apple nearly $1 billion in damages, though those trials are still on appeal.

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Apple's Phil Schiller at a product announcement last year. CNET

In all, the new trial involves seven patents in question. Apple claims Samsung infringed upon five patents, including technology that allows users to click on links in a message -- like a telephone number that triggers a call, or an address that gets input into a map. Samsung claims Apple ripped off two patents, including tech that speeds up the data transmission process, and could have implications on Apple's video chatting service FaceTime.

On Tuesday, Schiller was often noncommittal while being cross-examined. When asked specifically about the claims of infringement Apple has made regarding those five patents in question, Schiller said that while he knew the patents themselves, he wasn't as familiar with the specific claims. "That's not my area of expertise," was a familiar refrain.

Last time Schiller took the stand, in November, he stressed the iPhone's current importance to Apple, and said that there was a lot of concern that it would end in failure, especially after Apple had just bounced back with the success of the iPod. "We had a saying inside the company that it was a 'bet the company' product," he said at the time. He reiterated that point on Tuesday, and said the iPad, introduced in 2010, was another "bet the company" product.

 

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