Tech novices set to determine the fate of Apple v. Samsung

Six women and four men -- few of whom have technical backgrounds -- will decide what infringement occurred and how much money is owed in damages.

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Apple and Samsung are back in court. James Martin/CNET

SAN JOSE--The latest installment of the Apple vs. Samsung saga kicked off Monday with jury selection as the tech giants battle over patent infringement.

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 a 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.

Nearly all jurors own Apple or Samsung devices versus those from companies such as Nokia or BlackBerry. Most use an iPhone or an iPad, with only one potential juror saying she had a lot of experience with Android because she owned an HTC phone several years ago. (She was one of the last potential jurors to be excused.) There were a couple who only own flip phones, however, and one man, who was dismissed because of a hardship reason, admitted that he didn't even know what an iPad was.

"I'm kind of a dinosaur that way," he said.

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. 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.

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 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 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.

The arguments by Apple and Samsung in the latest case are expected to last until April 29 or April 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.

The lightest moments of jury selection came from potential jurors who worked in tech and had a lot of knowledge about the case.

One, a software engineer at LinkedIn, called the companies "bullies with their patent libraries." He also criticized the current US patent system.

"Neither company is a particular favorite of mine," he said. "Apple has had issues patenting designs that are obvious. Samsung is basically a proxy for Google in this case."

He was later dismissed for owning Google stock. Several other potential jurors were dismissed for owning shares in Google, Apple, Seagate, or other Android handset makers.

Court will resume Tuesday at 9 a.m. PT. The jury will receive its instructions and watch a movie about patents. Apple will present its opening arguments, followed by Samsung. Each company will have 90 minutes.

CNET will bring you full coverage as the trial progresses.

 

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