The federal judge presiding over the patent infringement trial of Apple against Samsung over the design of smartphones and tablet computers suggested in court on Aug. 15 that the parties might want to settle the case because testimony indicates both might have infringed on each other's patents.
"I see risk here for both sides," said U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, before the start of another day of testimony in the trial being held in San Jose, Calif. Koh suggested that the CEOs of both companies talk, even if just by phone, to perhaps settle before the case goes to the jury.
During the trial, now in its third week, Apple has presented testimony that Samsung infringed on a number of Apple patents in the development of many of its smartphones and tablet computers, thus illegally copying the design of Apple's iPhone and iPad products.
But this week Samsung presented its own evidence that Apple's products violated Samsung patents. It also has presented evidence that what Apple claims are patented designs are really based on "prior art" and, thus, its patents can't be enforced.
Koh told both companies and their attorneys that if their aim in this trial was to show that each company has their own intellectual property invested in these products, "Message delivered. In many respects, mission accomplished."
Samsung continued the presentation of its defense including the testimony of Jin Soo Kim, a Samsung employee flown in from company headquarters in South Korea and whose testimony was translated into English for the jury.
Kim testified that he and other engineers began developing the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet computer in October 2009, before the Apple iPad was introduced in 2010. He was also presented with a number of Samsung smartphones introduced before the iPhone came out in 2007.
Kim was asked by Samsung attorney John Quinn if at any time, did he copy the design of Apple or any other smartphone manufacturer. "I have not," he replied.
Under cross-examination by Apple attorney Harold McElhinny, Kim was asked whether he knew that Google, whose Android mobile operating system runs inside Samsung devices, asked Samsung to change the designs of its smartphones and tablets because they too closely resembled those of the iPhone and iPad. Kim replied that he had not heard about that directly from Google at the time and only heard about its objections in preparing for his testimony.
McElhinny then produced a Samsung executive's email memo discussing Google's objection to the designs: "Google is demanding distinguishable design vis-a-vis the iPad," it read, in part. The email also stated that Samsung decided to stick with its designs over Google's objections.
But Quinn later quizzed Kim again and he noted that the tablet computer at issue in the Samsung-Google email was a model called the P3, which is not sold in the United States. Earlier in the week, Judge Koh threw out three Samsung phones that Apple claimed violated its patents because those devices were not sold in the U.S.
Other witnesses presented further evidence in support of Samsung's argument that Apple's patented designs are based on "prior art," or technology that previously existed.
If the trial continues on schedule, both sides will present closing arguments on Aug. 21 and the jury could begin deliberations the next day, unless the parties take the judge's advice and settle.
Material for this report was obtained from a live blog of trial proceedings posted on the Website of the San Jose Mercury News.