Typo in expert report lead to spat between Samsung, Apple

An Australian Federal Court judge advised Samsung's attorney to reconsider allegations she made against Apple

A Federal Court judge warned Samsung on Wednesday to rethink its allegation that Apple improperly influenced expert witnesses key to the companies' ongoing patent infringement trial.

Justice Annabelle Claire Bennett advised Samsung counsel Katrina Howard that she made a "serious statement" on Monday directed toward Apple, and that she might want to consider professionally "what you want to do with that."

"I'll leave it at that," Bennett said.

Howard charged that it was "most inappropriate" for Apple to call a meeting to discuss a change to a joint report written by three experts weighing in on whether Apple infringes on three of Samsung's 3G patents in its iPhone 4, 4S models and second iPad.

One of the experts, Aruna Seneviratne of the University of New South Wales, testified on Wednesday that Apple did not pressure him to change the report during a meeting with the company's hired law firm, Freehills.

Apple lawyers pointed out what appeared to be a typographical error in the report, Seneviratne said. The report was amended, and Apple notified Samsung late Sunday night.

Howard pointed to an email written by Seneviratne that hinted Apple had pushed him to reconsider. Seneviratne said the email was merely his own wording regarding the change, and that it was not indicative of pressure from Apple.

"It's the way I wrote that email," Seneviratne said.

Stephen Burley, representing Apple, said it was unacceptable that Howard made an accusation on such a "flimsy basis."

The kerfuffle kicked off a session called the "hot tub" in which Seneviratne and two other technical experts, Riaz Esmailzadeh and Rami Mukhtar , answered questions at the same time from attorneys. In Australian court, the hot tub arrangement is believed to offer greater clarity on the technical issues since experts can interact with one another.

The three experts filed a joint report outlining their interpretation of Samsung's 3G patents. During questioning, Seneviratne and Mukhtar disagreed over the technical implementation of the so-called "512" patent, one of three patents Samsung accuses Apple of violating.

The patent is titled "Method and apparatus for data transmission in a mobile telecommunication system supporting enhanced uplink service" and deals with how a device adjusts transmitting power depending on a device's distance from a base station.

Apple contends it follows UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) standards in its devices, and Samsung's 3G patents are incorporated into some of those standards. Apple maintains, however, there are variations in which those standards can be implemented which do not infringe on the Korean company's patents.

But Apple also says it doesn't know exactly the implementation of the standards in its baseband chips, which are made by Qualcomm and Intel. Samsung is working to obtain the source code from those manufacturers to see how those chips function to try and prove its infringement case.

Apple's infringement allegations will be dealt with later in the trial. Apple filed suit against Samsung in Australia in July 2011, alleging that the company's Galaxy tablet infringed on patents it holds related to touchscreen technology.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com

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