Judge worried about a 'confused jury' in Apple-Samsung trial

The judge in the case between the two tech giants says she's concerned that the jury will have trouble tallying up damages.

James Martin/CNET

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Apple and Samsung brought out high-paid experts to figure out what each company owed the other in damages, but how will a jury of average Americans do when they get to make that decision?

That's on the mind of U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh, who expressed concern about the outcome while both companies hash out some last-minute arguments today.

"I am worried we might have a seriously confused jury here," Koh told legal counsel from both companies. "I have trouble understanding this, and I have spent a little more time with this than they have."

"It's so complex, and there are so many pieces here," she added.

That's no exaggeration. In the 21-page tentative verdict form that jurors face after closing arguments from both sides tomorrow, they must pick which devices from either side infringe on various patents. In Apple's case, it's on the hook for five of Samsung's utility patents across four of its devices -- incarnations of the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. For Apple, it's aimed three of its utility patents, and four of its design patents across more than 20 of Samsung's portable devices.

All the while, jurors will be faced with the tedious task of assigning damages, a tally that ranges from million to billions of dollars based on which expert report is used as the guideline.

"I saw [Apple's damages expert Terry] Musika like everyone else, that's obviously not going to assist the jury in every way for what it can and cannot award," Samsung attorney Michael Zeller told the judge.

Apple, on the other hand, thought there was plenty there for jurors to figure out.

"Looking at the verdict form, this is even more granular than anything Samsung has proposed," Apple attorney Michael Jacobs said of the company's verdict form offering.

The damages figure is of particular importance in the case, given that it could double or even triple depending on if Koh rules that any infringements were willful or otherwise malicious. Apple laid outs claim of $2.5 billion in Musika's testimony near the end of its section of the case, a figure Samsung's damages expert said was closer to $518.7 million .

Both sides continue to argue over some of the last-minute tweaks to the form itself, as well as the instructions that are to be read before they head to deliberation. Closing arguments are slated for tomorrow.

 

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