Exclusive: Apple-Samsung juror speaks out

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Manuel Ilagan, one of the nine jurors who ruled in favour of Apple, told CNET he thought Samsung's internal emails about incorporating some of Apple's technology into its devices and the evasive way Samsung executives answered questions was damning.

(Credit: Vicki Behringer)

Apple v. Samsung juror Manuel Ilagan said that the nine-person jury who heard the patent infringement case between the companies knew after the first day that it believed Samsung had wronged Apple.

Ilagan told CNET in an exclusive interview that the jury had several, sometimes "heated", debates, before reaching its verdict yesterday. He also said nothing in the deliberation process was rushed and that the jury carefully weighed the evidence.

"We found for Apple, because of the evidence they presented," Ilagan said. "It was clear there was infringement."

Asked to point to some of the more compelling evidence, Ilagan said:

"Well, there were several. The emails that went back and forth from Samsung execs about the Apple features that they should incorporate into their devices was pretty damning to me. And also, on the last day, they showed the pictures of the phones that Samsung made before the iPhone came out, and ones that they made after the iPhone came out. Some of the Samsung executives they presented on video [testimony] from Korea — I thought they were dodging the questions. They didn't answer one of them. They didn't help their cause."

Ilagan highlighted another area where Samsung lost the jury: its offensive on Apple that claimed Apple violated two of its patents relating to 3G wireless technology. One patent involved the baseband chip in the iPhone and iPad with 3G. During the trial, Apple turned around and pointed to a licensing deal Samsung had with Intel, which made the chips Apple used. Under that deal, Apple said, Samsung was not able to sue any companies Intel sold to. Apple then presented the receipts from when it purchased the accused chips from Intel.

The jurors came to their decision in 21 hours, or less than three work days. They ruled in favour of Apple on a majority of its patent infringement claims against Samsung. The jury also awarded Apple more than US$1 billion in damages.

Apple had originally sought US$2.75 billion in damages. Although it wasn't unanimous on all counts, the verdict was a major victory Apple. Samsung, which asked for US$421 million in its countersuit, didn't convince the jury that Apple infringed on any of its patents, receiving nothing in damages.

The decision was very one-sided, but Ilagan said that it wasn't clear the jurors were largely in agreement until after the first day of deliberations.

"It didn't dawn on us [that we agreed that Samsung had infringed] on the first day," Ilagan said. "We were debating heavily, especially about the patents on bounce-back and pinch-to-zoom. Apple said they owned patents, but we were debating about the prior art [about the same technology that Samsung said existed before the iPhone debuted]. [Velvin Hogan] was jury foreman. He had experience. He owned patents himself. In the beginning, the debate was heated, but it was still civil. Hogan holds patents, so he took us through his experience. After that, it was easier. After we debated that first patent — what was prior art — because we had a hard time believing there was no prior art, that there wasn't something out there before Apple.

"In fact, we skipped that one," Ilagan continued, "so we could go on faster. It was bogging us down."

To those who are sceptical that the jury could reach a decision so quickly on more than 700 often complex patent questions, Ilagan denied they tried to hurry the process. He said jury members took their job seriously and didn't take any shortcuts.

"We weren't impatient," Ilagan said. "We wanted to do the right thing and not skip any evidence. I think we were thorough."

The deliberation process moved faster once all the jury members had agreed that Apple's patents were infringed.

"Once you determine that Samsung violated the patents," Ilagan said, "it's easy to just go down those different [Samsung] products, because it was all the same. Like the trade dress — once you determine Samsung violated the trade dress, the flat screen with the bezel ... then you go down the products to see if it had a bezel. But we took our time. We didn't rush. We had a debate before we made a decision. Sometimes, it was getting heated."

A bezel is a term analogous with the non-functional area around a digital screen, and the word also refers to an ornamental band around the front face. In Apple's first iPhone, the bezel was polished chrome, a look that stayed with the device for three generations, until the iPhone 4.

During the trial, Samsung attempted to undercut the importance of the bezel. This included bringing out one of its design experts to say that the feature was functional, and therefore, that it dictated form — a part of Samsung's argument that jurors appear to have actually bought, based on what was a very mixed ruling of infringement on the patent that covers the look of that feature.

Another sign that the jury didn't just decide to check off all the Apple boxes on the jury form and call it a day, was that the jurors denied some of the Apple claims. They found that Samsung infringed Apple's utility and design patents with some, but not all of the accused Samsung products.

They also concluded that Samsung had violated Apple's trade dress for the iPhone, but decided that Samsung had not violated Apple's unregistered trade dress claims regarding the iPad.

According to court documents, trade dress is the "non-functional, physical detail and design of a product, which identifies the product's source and distinguishes it from the products of others".

"We were debating the unregistered trade dress claims," Ilagan said. "That took a while, because some of the guys wanted to give protection to round corners, the icons and rectangles, but they were not registered. So, some of the jurors said 'why are we playing patent office? We're not the patent office. It's not even registered'. And some of the jurors, when you look at the combination of those features, said it looks like an Apple. But we didn't want to shut out Samsung from the market, because we thought, 'OK, well, if Apple had tried to get a patent for all that stuff and didn't, so now they wanted us to be the ones to get it for them'. We didn't want to do that."

Ilagan also said that there was no hometown bias.

"We weren't going for Apple," Ilagan said. "We were going by the judge's instructions on how we should go about it, and we stuck to that. We weren't thinking Apple or Samsung."

As far as the deliberation process was concerned, each of the jurors had some kind of expertise or played some role that helped the process go smoothly. Hogan, the jury's foreman, owned a company that has gone through the lengthy process of obtaining a patent. He was also on a jury three prior times.

The two women on the jury, Luzviminda Rougieri and Aarti Mathur, helped keep the discussion on track and within the rules, Ilagan said. One of the jurors, believed to be Peter Catherwood, is a project manager with AT&T and he helped the group add up damages, Ilagan said.

"I was vocal about the technical [issues], about the power controls, because I know that stuff," Ilagan said. "I work on that."

Ilagan has a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. He has worked as a systems engineer for Western Electronic and as an applications engineer for Stanford Telecom.

Four of the nine jury members, who all lived in the area around San Jose, California, where the trial was held, had experience working for technology companies, including Intel and AT&T. Hogan worked for a hard drive company.

Finally, Ilagan was asked if the jury understood that this was a major case and the ramifications that its decision could have on the market.

"I realised that's a big deal if Samsung can't sell those phones," Ilagan said. "But I'm sure Samsung can recover and do their own designs. There are other ways to design a phone. What was happening was that the appearance [of Samsung's phone] was their downfall. You copied the appearance ... Nokia is still selling phones. BlackBerry is selling phones. Those phones aren't infringing. There are alternatives out there."

CNET reporter Josh Lowensohn contributed to this story.

Via CNET.com



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Chandler posted a comment   
Australia

Wait... "once you determine Samsung violated the trade dress, the flat screen with the bezel ... then you go down the products to see if it had a bezel. " ... Apple has a patent on devices with flat screens with bezels? Look out TV manufacturers!

 

Rolloxan posted a comment   
Australia

Isn't as clear cut as it appears. It now looks like Samsung won't be paying anything near the $1 billion. http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=2012082510525390

 

ChristopherM2 posted a comment   

The Samsung f700 was released before the iPhone but despite being a slider- it is the clear inspiration for the original Galaxy S- purely from a physical perspective. The GUI is still debatable but really, you have to open the app drawer to even consider the similarities.

 

ZoranZ1 posted a comment   

Win!!!




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