Apple and Samsung head back to court, but outcome could be different

The two companies are due back in court on Monday to argue over smartphone patents

The never-ending legal battle between Apple and Samsung enters a new phase Monday when lawyers begin selecting a jury for a new trial that will address new complaints against a different set of phones.

But it could be more than simply a repeat of the previous two trials in California, and one expert noted that Apple's victories to date don't guarantee it another win this time around.

Lawyers for Apple and Samsung will each get 25 hours to argue their case, taking the trial through most of April. Much time will likely be spent dissecting the ins and outs of smartphone operating systems, but the root of the case is the wider tussle between Apple and Samsung for share of the multibillion-dollar smartphone market.

Apple defined the modern smartphone market when it launched the iPhone in 2007, and competitors spent years trying to catch up. Apple accuses Samsung of copying some of its designs and functionality as a way to get ahead in the market more quickly.

Apple's complaint, filed in 2012, says Samsung "systematically copied Apple's innovative technology and products, features, and designs, and has deluged markets with infringing devices in an effort to usurp market share from Apple."

"Instead of pursuing independent product development, Samsung slavishly copied Apple's innovative technology, with its elegant and distinctive user interfaces product design, in violation of Apple's valuable intellectual property rights," Apple said in the document.

Samsung denies those claims.

Apple says Samsung infringed on five of its patents in 10 models of phones and tablets, while Samsung has counterclaimed that Apple has infringed on two of its patents in nine phones and tablets.

The Apple patents include features such as the "slide to unlock" action and autocomplete, while Samsung's patents cover a remote video transmission system and digital imaging.

It follows a similar case, filed in 2011 in the same court, that has already been in front of two juries. In that case, which is moving into the appeals phase, Apple won the majority of its arguments and has been awarded around US$930 million in damages.

But Apple's previous victory doesn't necessarily mean it will win this time around.

"All patent cases come down to the language in the claims," said Mark McKenna, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame. "You can't take too much from the previous case. It's round two but it's not the same products and not the same patents. We'll have to see how the court sees these patents."

The first case involved phones with names like "Transform," "Replenish" and "Epic" -- from the days before Samsung ramped up its Android branding.

This case covers models that are much better known, including Samsung's Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S II, Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and Apple's iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Mini and two models of the iPod Touch.

Those more recognizable brands could make a difference to the outcome, said Roy Futterman, a director at DOAR Litigation Consulting and a clinical psychologist who works on trial strategies and the mindset of jurors.

"One of the big differences this time around is that Samsung has become a much more visible presence in the average American consumer's eyes," he said. "From a potential juror's point of view, this gives Samsung much more legitimacy from the start, which may have a substantial effect on how the jurors take in the case from the opening argument onward."

Lawyers for Apple and Samsung are expected to spend much of Monday selecting a jury. That's not necessarily an easy task in Silicon Valley, where both Apple and Android-owner Google employ thousands and exert wide influence.

When a jury has been selected, the trial will get underway. It will be heard on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays over the next few weeks.

The case is Apple vs. Samsung, 12-00630, at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
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