The ABCs of Apple v. Samsung

Apple and Samsung are expected to give closing arguments in their patent trial this week. Here's the info you need to follow along.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
7 min read
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The trial that could reshape the market for mobile phones is about to come to some kind of closure.

There's one more day of legal house cleaning before closing arguments begin in Apple v. Samsung, the patent dispute between two of the biggest players in smartphones.

In a lawsuit filed last year, Apple accused Samsung of stealing some of the ideas and technology behind the iPhone and iPad. Samsung countersued and alleged Apple violated some of its patents.

On Monday, the parties will likely continue arguing over what instructions the judge will give the jury. Once that's concluded, each side will make its closing argument and the jury will be given the case to consider. The nine-person jury -- seven men and two women -- has been presented with a mountain of evidence, and weighing all of it could take some time.

Here are some key facts and data points to help you understand what the jury is looking at.

How did this start? You can trace the clash back to January 9, 2007, when the iPhone debuted. Apple said in a lawsuit it filed against Samsung in April 2011 that within a couple of years of Apple's releasing the iPhone, Samsung had created iPhone clones that ripped off Apple's technology and designs. Apple also claims Samsung did the same thing after the iPad was released. Samsung responded by countersuing Apple for patent infringement.

How much longer will it last? The trial began on July 30 and was scheduled to conclude on Friday.

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What's at stake? If it wins, Apple wants $2.5 billion. Samsung is seeking $519 million from Apple. What this case is really about, though, is stopping Google and its Android operating system. Steve Jobs, the late Apple co-founder and CEO, said before dying last October that he wanted to destroy Android because he considered it a "wholesale" ripoff of the iPhone.

If Apple wins, the company's lawyers will first be able to force Samsung to stop shipping some of its handsets and computer tablets in the United States but more importantly, Apple will have a nice precedent with which to attack HTC and other companies that use Android. If Apple loses, then the decision will obviously work against Apple's larger anti-Android strategy.

What happens next? Apple and Samsung are still arguing over what instructions the judge will give to the jury about what they should consider before rendering a verdict. At more than a 100 pages long, the instructions will take more than an hour to read and are sure to put the jury into a coma, the judge has said.

How long will closing arguments last? Each side will get two hours and both parties insisted that their arguments be made on the same day as each other. Expect that to occur on Tuesday.

Who is on the jury? Seven men and two women.

Why doesn't Apple just sue Google?: One likely reason is that Android is free and Google doesn't profit directly from sharing the OS with phone makers. Samsung, on the other hand, chooses to use Android and is generating revenue upon which Apple can calculate damages.

Samsung also makes for an easier target. Apple can compare the iPhone with Samsung's handsets side by side.

Apple v. Samsung

Important dates in the patent dispute.

January 9, 2007
The Apple iPhone debuts.

April 15, 2011
Apple files suit against Samsung, asserting patent and trade-dress claims.

June 30, 2011
Samsung files counterclaims against Apple. In response to Samsung's infringement claims related to its standards patents, Apple asserts counterclaims of license exhaustion and FRAND/antitrust violations.

July 1, 2011
Apple files a motion for preliminary injunction against the Galaxy S 4G, Infuse 4G, and Droid Charge smartphones, and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet, which was denied on December 2, 2011.

June 26, 2012
Apple appeals the denial of preliminary injunction to the Federal Circuit, which affirms on all counts except the D'889 design patent, which claims the design of a tablet computer. On this day, the court enters preliminary injunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet based on the D'889 patent.

July 31, 2012
Opening arguments in the trial get under way.

Apple's best evidence: This includes side-by-side comparisons of the two company's icons and graphics. Apple has also presented internal e-mails and documents that show Samsung closely studied the iPhone and knew that its own handsets were inferior to Apple's. Apple argues that these documents prove Samsung was trying to mimic the iPhone.

Samsung's best evidence Samsung last week disputed Apple's patent claims by showing that similar technology, including two-finger touch on computer screens and computer tablets, existed prior to the release of the iPhone and iPad.

Which party has the advantage? With juries, you never know which way they're going to go. Still, if you're trying to handicap this clash, I'd say Apple has the edge. Showing what the iPhone looked like when it debuted in 2007 and then showing Samsung's phones before and after that date is powerful.

Who are the lawyers? As you might expect, there are oodles of them. Apple's lead attorney is Harold McElhinny of the firm of Morrison & Foerster. At 65, McElhinny has a lot of big victories under his belt. The top man for Samsung is Charles Verhoeven from the firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. Verhoeven is younger but just as much of a winner. Last year, a legal journal wrote about Verhoeven and the headline read: "Google Doesn't Need Patents, It Has Mister Verhoeven."

Who is the judge? Lucy Koh, a U.S. district judge for the Northern District of California. She has been a federal judge since June 2010. When granting the preliminary injunction against Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1, Koh said: "Although Samsung has a right to compete, it does not have a right to compete unfairly by flooding the market with infringing products."

Where can I get the best info on this? I'm glad you asked. CNET is covering the case gavel to gavel. Our Josh Lowensohn is in the courtroom and posting to Twitter, and is filing numerous stories. All our news, features and photo galleries about the trial can be found here.

In addition, All Things D, The Verge, and Foss Patents are pulling out the stops to cover the case as well.

Where is the trial taking place? It's at the Robert Peckham U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building in San Jose, Calif.

Apple: Samsung even lifted our icons (pictures)

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Apple's patent claims
Utility patents:

  • '381 patent: Relates to the "bounce-back" feature when scrolling beyond the edge of a photo or document.
  • '915 patent: Relates to a device capable of distinguishing between a single-touch scroll operation and a multitouch "pinch-to-zoom" operation.
  • '163 patent: Relates to touch to double-tapping to enlarge and center portions of an electronic document.

Design patents:

  • D '677 patent and D '087 patent: Relates to the front face of an electronic device, as embodied by the iPhone.
  • D '305 patent: Relates to a user-interface design depicting a grid of rounded square icons against a black background.
  • D '889 patent: Relates to the industrial design of a tablet computer.

Trade dress (a legal term that refers to a product's physical appearance, including its size, shape, color, design, and texture):

  • Dilution: Apple asserts that Samsung's smartphones dilute its iPhone trade dresses (one registered, two unregistered), and that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 dilutes its unregistered iPad and iPad 2 trade dresses.
  • Infringement: Apple alleges that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 infringes its unregistered iPad and iPad 2 trade dresses.
  • Antitrust: Apple alleges that Samsung's assertion of patents that are essential to 3G standards constitutes a violation of federal and California antitrust law.

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Samsung's Patent Claims
Standards-essential patents:

  • '516 patent: Directed to scaling down the transmit power of certain radio broadcast channels before other channels, to give priority to the most important data channels.
  • '941 patent: Describes a more efficient use of radio resources by reducing overhead associated with transmitting a particular type of data unit.

Features patents:

  • '711 patent: Allows a user to play music while the user multitasks and accesses other programs and menus.
  • '460 patent: Allows a user to take a picture on a phone/tablet, immediately review the picture in a gallery mode, and then seamlessly e-mail it along with a message.
  • '893 patent: Allows a user of a phone/tablet to browse pictures in the gallery, switch to the camera mode, take a picture, and then switch back to the last picture viewed in the gallery.

Editors' note: This report originally was published August 13. It has been updated to reflect the goings-on in the trial since that time.