Apple Witness Claims Similarities in iPhone, iPad, Samsung Products

An industrial designer hired by Apple was questioned about alleged similarities between Apple's mobile products and Samsung's as a patent trial entered its second week in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif.

An ongoing debate about subtle differences between Apple and Samsung mobile devices dominated most of the testimony Aug. 9 in the patent infringement trial playing out in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif.

An industrial designer called by Apple to testify, Peter Bressler, said that there are similarities in the look of Samsung smartphones and tablets and that of the Apple iPad and iPhone that indicate that Samsung copied Apple's design.

"It is my opinion that there are a number of Samsung phones and two Samsung tablets that are substantially the same as the designs in those [Apple] patents," Bressler said under direct examination by Apple attorney Rachel Krevans.

Bressler also told the jury that the specifics of the iPhone design and configuration are covered by the patents Apple is accusing Samsung of infringing. Bressler also testified that he thinks the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet computer is substantially similar to the Apple iPad. The jury doesn't know this, but the presiding judge in the trial, Federal District Judge Lucy Koh, granted a pretrial injunction sought by Apple to block Samsung from selling the Galaxy 10.1 in the United States until the trial is completed.

As the trial enters its second week, the cost to Apple in bringing this case is becoming apparent, even if it wins the case, in the sense that the legendary veil of secrecy is being pulled back from the company's operations and, most importantly, its product designs. Part of the mystique surrounding Apple products was in the way the late Steve Jobs, CEO and co-founder of Apple, used superlatives like "magical" and "amazing" to describe them.

But during this trial, Apple executives have testified about internal memos presented to them in the presence of the jury detailing how they do their work. In one instance, Philip Schiller, the senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple, had to acknowledge an Apple memo that the company would have difficulty pointing to any "firsts" in the design of the iPhone, since several other smartphones had already preceded it in the market.

"We did not have exclusivity on playing movies or music on phones," Schiller acknowledged.

This report on the trial is based on information from a live blog of proceedings posted online by the San Jose Mercury News.

Bressler faced tough cross-examination by Samsung attorney Charles Verhoeven, who challenged a key argument of Apple's that Samsung's supposed copying of Apple designs causes confusion among consumers as to which brand is which. Bressler conceded that he had no knowledge of any known consumer confusion.

Verhoven went through several examples of Samsung and Apple devices and pointed to several design differences, such as that the bezel, essentially a frame around the iPhone screen, is flush with the screen while the bezel around a Samsung phone screen protrudes a bit.

Bressler responded that a consumer forms an overall impression of a product, not on specific differences. Samsung also scored a small victory when Judge Koh allowed a limited introduction of evidence about the Samsung F700 phone design, a product that preceded the iPhone to market, thus it was not influenced by the iPhone.

Earlier in the day, Samsung Chief Product Strategist for mobile, Justin Denison ,was presented by an Apple attorney with an internal Samsung email referencing a "crisis in design" at Samsung on the potential impact of the iPhone on Samsung. He characterized it in court as "hyperbole."

Under questioning by Samsung attorney John Quinn, Denison said Samsung has been making smartphones and other devices for 15 years and resents Apple's accusations that it has ripped off the iPhone and iPad. "I find it very offensive," he said. The iPhone has only been on the market for five years and the iPad for only two, Dennison noted.