Google exec: We never copied iPhone features for Android

Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google VP of engineering for Android, takes the stand for Samsung in its patent infringement trial against Apple. Samsung argues that many features Apple has accused it of copying were created by Google first.

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Apple and Samsung have sued each other for infringement. CNET

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Google engineers have never copied Apple's iPhone features for use in Android, an executive from the software giant said Friday during testimony in the Apple v. Samsung patent-infringement trial.

Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google vice president of Android, walked the jury through early development of Android and said engineers actually tried to make software that was very different from Apple's iOS mobile operating system.

"We liked to have our own identity; we liked to have our own ideas," Lockheimer said. "We were very passionate about what we were doing, and it was important that we have our own ideas."

Lockheimer was the first witness Samsung called in its defense against Apple. Apple has accused Samsung of copying its iPhones and iPads, but Samsung has argued that Google designed many of the features for Android first.

Earlier Friday, Apple rested its case against Samsung after an expert detailed the $2.191 billion in damages the company says it's due from Samsung.

Samsung's attorneys said the company may call as many as 17 witnesses by the end of the day Monday, though many would be via deposition. Nevertheless, Judge Lucy Koh said the company had to narrow its list.

Many of the other witnesses on tap for Samsung are Google executives. Dianne Hackborn and Cary Clark are slated to testify about the design, development, and operation of Android, as well as possible alterations made to the operating system. They should specifically talk about features for quick links, or automatically detecting data in messages, that Apple has accused of infringing its patent No. '647.

Almost two years after Apple and Samsung faced off in a messy patent dispute, the smartphone and tablet rivals have returned to the same courtroom here to argue once again over patents before federal Judge Koh. Apple is arguing that Samsung infringed on five of its patents for the iPhone, its biggest moneymaker, and that Apple is due $2 billion for that infringement. Samsung wants about $7 million from Apple for infringing two of its software patents.

While the companies are asking for damages, the case is about more than money. What's really at stake is the market for mobile devices. Apple now gets two-thirds of its 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.

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. Apple has argued the patent-infringement trial has nothing to do with Android. However, Samsung argues that Apple's suit is an "attack on Android" and that Google had invented certain features before Apple patented them.

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.

Lockheimer on Friday said he joined Google in April 2006 to work on the Android team. At that time, there were only about 20 to 30 people on the team, and it operated like a startup. Currently, about 600 to 700 people working on Android report to Lockheimer, he said.

"People tend to think of Google as a big company, but we were a small team," Lockheimer said. "We were autonomous, and the company let us do our own thing."

Apple has accused Samsung's Galaxy S3 of infringing three of its patents. CNET

He noted that there are "thousands" of features in Android, and all aim for ease of use. He also testified as to the timeframe that Google engineers developed features like quick links and background syncing for Android. Many of the features were created in 2005 or 2006 ahead of the first Android phone launch from HTC in October 2008, Lockheimer said. The timing will be key to Samsung's argument that Google created Apple's patented features first.

Lockheimer also testified about what Android features handset vendors can tweak. For instance, phone makers don't have to use the Google keyboard, but if they include it, they can't change it.

Christopher Vellturo, an economist and principal at consultancy Quantitative Economic Solutions, earlier Friday wrapped up his testimony from earlier in the week, saying Apple should receive about $2.191 billion in damages from Samsung for patent infringement. He noted the figure includes damages -- such as lost profits -- of $1.067 billion and reasonable royalties of $1.124 billion.

Vellturo on Tuesday had testified he determined the amount by evaluating the scale of the infringement, the time span, the head-to-head rivalry between Apple and Samsung, and the belief that the patents were key for making Samsung devices easier to use and more attractive to buyers. Samsung sold more than 37 million infringing devices, Vellturo said. The total amount of sales in dollars was kept confidential.

Earlier this week, another expert hired by Apple, MIT marketing professor John Hauser, argued that the company's patented features made Samsung's devices more appealing and that fewer people would have purchased the gadgets if the features were missing.

Hauser and Vellturo are key to Apple's argument that it deserves about $2 billion in damages for Samsung's alleged infringement. The company argues that Samsung copied Apple's iPhone as it tried to figure out how to react and compete with the device. It realized it "simply did not have a product that could compete successfully against the iPhone," Apple attorneys said during opening arguments earlier this month. Samsung, however, argues that many of the patented items are features Google had earlier created for Android.

Samsung attorney John Quinn, meanwhile, on Friday disputed many of Vellturo's claims during cross-examination. He tried to show that Samsung's meteoric rise in the smartphone market was because of factors such as 4G LTE, not Apple's patented technology. As one example, Quinn asked Vellturo why -- if Apple patents really attracted buyers -- the Galaxy Nexus, which Apple said infringed five patents, didn't sell as well as the Galaxy S3, which Apple said only infringed three.

In the case, 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.

The latest trial kicked off March 31 with jury selection. The following day featured opening arguments and testimony by Phil Schiller, Apple's head of marketing. Other witnesses who have testified include Greg Christie, an Apple engineer who invented the slide-to-unlock iPhone feature; Thomas Deniau, a France-based Apple engineer who helped develop the company's quick link technology; and Justin Denison, chief strategy officer of Samsung Telecommunications America. Denison's testimony came via a deposition video.

Apple experts who took the stand over the past couple of weeks included Andrew Cockburn, a professor of computer science and software engineering at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand; Todd Mowry, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University; and Alex Snoeren, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of California at San Diego.

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. 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, at which time 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.

 

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