Samsung expert witnesses: Sorry, Apple, there's no infringement

Several computer science professors, including Kevin Jeffay of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, testify that Samsung's devices don't infringe Apple's various patents and that Apple's patents aren't valid.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
6 min read

Apple and Samsung are facing off in a San Jose, Calif., court. Shara Tibken/CNET

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Samsung didn't infringe on Apple's patents for quick links, universal search, slide-to-unlock, and autocorrect, several expert witnesses hired by the Korean giant testified Tuesday.

Kevin Jeffay, professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, said that Apple's '647 quick-links patent is more limited than the company claims. The technology allows for the automatic detection of data that can be clicked, such as a phone number being sent to a dialer rather than having to memorize or copy and past the number. Apple's patent involves the use of an "analyzer server" to perform the action.

Samsung devices, however, don't use an analyzer server for the browser and message, Jeffay said, and detecting and linking in Samsung devices are performed by the application itself. In addition, the Android Jelly Bean browser doesn't enable selection of detected text, he said.

"In my opinion, they do not infringe," Jeffay said.

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Later Tuesday, Martin Rinard, a professor of computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said his analysis determined that Samsung didn't infringe Apple's '959 universal search patent. And Saul Greenberg, a professor of human computer interaction at the University of Calgary in Canada, testified that slides are common in most user interfaces and Samsung did not copy Apple's slide-to-unlock technology.

Along with saying Samsung didn't infringe, the experts also said there's no evidence of commercial success that can attributed to the patents. In some cases, Apple doesn't use the specific claims of certain patents in its iPhone, and in other cases, there's no proof people bought the iPhone for features such as slide-to-unlock, they said. The experts also determined Apple's patents aren't valid.

"What I'm saying is the patent office didn't have the information in front of it to make the right decision [when it granted Apple a patent for universal search]," Rinard said.

Samsung questioned another expert witness, University of Toronto computer science professor Daniel Wigdor, late in the session Tuesday about the validity of Apple's '172 patent for predictive text. Wigdor testified that other companies had developed autocorrect before Apple filed a patent for the technology. Apple began its cross examination of Wigdor with five minutes left in the session and will continue questioning when court resumes Friday.

Judge Lucy Koh noted that the jury could start deliberating a day or two earlier than expected. Arguments originally were anticipated to end April 29 or 30, but testimony is now expected to conclude April 25 and closing arguments April 28. As of the end of day Tuesday, Apple had used 15 hours and 38 minutes of the 25 hours allotted, while Samsung had used 17 hours and 39 minutes.

Almost two years after Apple and Samsung faced off in a messy patent dispute, the smartphone and tablet rivals have returned to the same San Jose, Calif., courtroom 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 it 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 ""="" shortcode="link" asset-type="article" uuid="a1d68d24-5ba9-4367-9e18-1c0c88f549e9" slug="samsung-apples-case-is-an-attack-on-android" link-text=" " section="news" title="Samsung: Apple's case 'is an attack on Android'" edition="us" data-key="link_bulk_key" api="{"id":"a1d68d24-5ba9-4367-9e18-1c0c88f549e9","slug":"samsung-apples-case-is-an-attack-on-android","contentType":null,"edition":"us","topic":{"slug":"mobile"},"metaData":{"typeTitle":null,"hubTopicPathString":"Mobile","reviewType":null},"section":"news"}"> and that Google had invented certain features before Apple patented them.

Apple attorneys on Tuesday reiterated that the case is about Samsung, not Google. They also tried to cast doubt on Samsung's experts. Harold McElhinny, while questioning Greenberg, asked if the professor considered himself an inventor despite the fact he had never applied for a patent.

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Apple rested its case against Samsung on Friday after an expert detailed the $2.191 billion in damages the company says it's due from Samsung. Samsung kicked off its defense that day with Google Android engineers such as Hiroshi Lockheimer. Earlier Monday, Google Android engineers Bjorn Bringert and Dianne Hackborn testified about features of the operating system.

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 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, San Diego.

Samsung, which launched its defense April 11, called several Google engineers to the stand to testify about the early days of Android and technology they created before Apple received its patents. Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google vice president of engineering for Android, said his company never copied iPhone features for Android. Other Google Android engineers Bjorn Bringert and Dianne Hackborn also testified about features of the operating system.

High-ranking Samsung executives, including former Samsung Telecommunications America CEO Dale Sohn and STA Chief Marketing Officer Todd Pendleton, also took the stand during the weeks-long trial. The two executives testified about Samsung's marketing push for the Galaxy S2 and other devices, saying a shift in the Korean company's sales and marketing efforts -- not copying Apple -- boosted its position in the smartphone market.

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 should finish by the end of April. 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.

Updated at 3:40 and 4:40 p.m. PT with information about other expert testimony. Correction at 5 p.m. to reflect that Apple stressed the case is about Samsung, not Google. The original post had the companies switched.

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