Jury: Apple should duke it out with Google over patents
If Apple thinks Google's Android infringes its mobile tech, the two should go head-to-head, jury members in the Apple v. Samsung trial say.
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- If Apple believes Android features infringe its technology, it should battle directly with Google instead of handset makers, jurors from the Apple v. Samsung patent-infringement trial said.
Apple took pains to make its patent-infringement suit all about Samsung, not Android, but the jury wasn't quite convinced. Members of the jury, who spoke with reporters and attorneys Monday following the end of the trial, said Google didn't factor into their decision for damages or what device features infringed and what didn't, aside from testimony by certain developers who had created Google features.
But they also believed there was something to the "fact that Google was implicated in all of this but not really a party," said jury foreman Tom Dunham, a retired IBM software executive.
"I guess if you really feel that Google is something that's the cause behind this, as I think everybody observed, then don't beat around the bush," Dunham said. "The fact is Apple has [intellectual property] they believe in. So does Samsung. So does Google. Let the courts decide, but a more direct approach might be something to think about."
Margarita Palmada, a member of the jury and retired teacher, said the jury wanted to know more about the companies' motivations and how Google played into the situation.
"It was something we would have liked to learn more about," she said. "It's something that should be addressed at some point by some people."
Google declined to comment. We've contacted Apple for comment and will update this story when we have more information.
An eight-person jury on Friday returned a mixed verdict in this year's Apple v. Samsung patent-infringement case over patents related to their smartphones and tablets. Samsung was found to have infringed three of Apple's five patents at issue and was ordered to pay $119.6 million, much less than the $2.2 billion sought by the maker of the iPhone. At the same time, Apple was found to have infringed one of Samsung's two patents and ordered to pay $158,400. Samsung was asking for $6.2 million.
Samsung argued during the trial that most features Apple said infringed were 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, the Korean company said, and it accused Apple of attacking Android. Apple argued that the patent infringement trial had nothing to do with Android.
It came out during the trial, however, that Google was helping Samsung with its defense for two patents, '414 for background syncing and '959 for universal search. Those patents wielded by Apple directly target features of Android that Google developed, including the Google search box and Gmail. The other patents target features that can be tweaked by handset makers or by the Android open source community.
The jury determined that Samsung had not infringed the '414 and '959 patents but that it did infringe Apple's three other patents.
The jury reached its verdict shortly before 4:30 p.m. PT Friday, the end of the third full day of deliberations. However, Apple's attorneys disputed one of the damages figures, and Judge Lucy Koh ordered the jury to reconsider the figure Monday. It had awarded Apple no damages for one version of the Galaxy S2, but Apple believed it should be awarded some money for Samsung's infringement of the '172 patent. After deliberating for about two hours Monday, the jury shuffled around some of the damages amounts but kept the total at $119.6 million.
"It was a clerical error on our parts," Dunham said.
The results of the trial are less clear cut than the previous patent-infringement case and damages retrial that netted Apple about $930 million. However, the results likely will be viewed as a victory for Samsung. The damages amount owed to Apple fall far below the company's request, and Samsung wasn't found to infringe all of Apple's patents. In addition, Apple was found to infringe one of Samsung's patents, something that didn't occur in the previous trial.
Almost two years after Apple and Samsung faced off in a messy patent dispute, the smartphone and tablet rivals returned to the same courtroom here to battle once again over patents before Judge Koh. Apple argued that Samsung infringed on five of its patents for the iPhone, its biggest moneymaker, and that Apple was due $2.2 billion for that infringement. Samsung wanted about $6.2 million from Applefor infringing two of its software patents, and it argued that even if it did infringe all of Apple's patents, it should have to pay only $38.4 million.
While the companies asked 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.
In the current case, Apple and Samsung accused each other of copying features used in their popular smartphones and tablets. The trial involved 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 involved the iPhone 5, released in September 2012, and Samsung's Galaxy S3, which also debuted in 2012.
There were seven patents at issue in the latest case -- five held by Apple and two by Samsung. Apple 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 argued that the patents enable ease of use and make a user interface more engaging.
Samsung, meanwhile, had 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 monthlong trial, which kicked off March 31 with jury selection, included about 52 hours of testimony, three hours of opening arguments, and four hours of closings. It covered everything from the invention of the technology at issue in the case to what damages should total. Apple argued throughout the trial that its case was about Samsung, not Google, and that Samsung copied Apple out of desperation. Samsung, meanwhile, argued that Apple's suit was about hurting competition and Android.
The two companies presented their closing arguments Tuesday. The case was then handed to the jury of four men and four women shortly before 3 p.m. PT that day. The jury was made up of tech novices such as a police officer and a retired teacher. Only one member -- Dunham, the former IBM software executive -- had experience in technology, while another works in renewable energy.
Update, 2:27 PT: Added that Google declined to comment.