Samsung: Apple pushed expert witnesses to change their minds

The issue is however unlikely to have a major impact on the trial in Australian Federal Court

Samsung accused Apple of improperly influencing expert witnesses on Monday, following the amendment of an expert report delivered to the Korean company's legal team late Sunday night.

The accusation came during the start of the second week of the companies' patent trial in Australia's Federal Court in Sydney.

The report, written by three experts, concerns three 3G-related patents owned by Samsung that the company accuses Apple of violating in the iPhone 4 and 4S models and second iPad model.

Samsung counsel Katrina Howard said it was "most inappropriate" for Apple to call a meeting with the experts and ask them to reconsider their opinions, which deal with highly technical details concerning Apple's alleged violation of Samsung's patents. Apple counsel Stephen Burley said there were just two changes.

Howard argued to Justice Annabelle Claire Bennett that Samsung should be given the chance to cross-examine the witnesses prior to the "hot tub" testimony from the experts.

Australian courts used the term "hot tub" to describe a hearing in which several expert witnesses give evidence in court at the same time, an arrangement which is believed to offer greater clarity on the technical issues at hand.

The change in opinion by the experts seemed unlikely to cause a major problem in the trial, however. Bennett said it was not unheard of for experts to change their opinion. Samsung would have the opportunity to ask the experts why they changed their minds, she said.

"The expert report is a piece of evidence but can be challenged in cross examination," Bennett said.

Monday's hearing was predominantly consumed with Howard reviewing affidavits from experts expected to eventually give testimony for Bennett.

The battle between Samsung and Australia has so far lacked much of the rich detail from the U.S. trial, which began July 31 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose, California.

Documents released in the U.S. include early iPhone and iPad designs drawn up before Apple's products were released, as part of its contention that Samsung copied its products.

The Australian court is first addressing Samsung's allegation that Apple infringes three of its 3G patents, and proceedings so far have focused around the technical details of those innovations.

The 3G patents are Australian patents No. 2005202512 and No. 2006241621, which deal with power control and the format of packet headers used for 3G data transmissions, and patent No. 2005239657, which deals with rate matching patterns used in data transmission.

Apple accuses Samsung of infringing touchscreen patents it holds, although those allegations have not been dealt with yet. The trial, which was originally scheduled to run through October, has been revised and will now run intermittently through May 2013.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com

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Jeremy Kirk

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