Apple and Samsung on Monday faced off at a U.S. federal court in San Jose, northern California over their smartphone and tablet patent infringement dispute. This is the first U.S. jury trial of the two companies' year-long patent lawsuits drama across the world.
APPLE VS SAMSUNG
Before squaring off in court, Apple and Samsung failed to settle the case at a court-ordered meeting in San Francisco on May 21, making the case the first of the mobile market patent wars that will be fully litigated in the United States.
One of the highest-profile patent cases to date, the trial was billed by U.S. media as "the patent trial of the century."
Apple, whose Cupertino headquarters are only 18 miles from the courthouse in San Jose, is seeking 2.525 billion U.S. dollars in damages, claiming Samsung has been "unjustly enriched" by copying iPhone and iPad. Apple also seeks a ban on sales of Samsung tablets and smartphones in the United States. Apple first sued Samsung in April last year.
As for Samsung, the Korean company denied that it had infringed on any of Apple's intellectual property rights, and made counterclaims that Apple violated its own patents.
Samsung accused Apple of seeking to stifle legitimate competition and limiting consumer choices to maintain its historically exorbitant profits.
In its trial brief, Samsung also argued that compared to its 20- year development and research in the mobile market, Apple, a relatively new player in the field, has been using Samsung's technology without paying or entering into any cross-licensing agreement.
According to Apple, Samsung asked for 14.4 dollars per iPhone or iPad sold in a cross-licensing deal, which the U.S. company thinks is not fair.
WHAT TO EXPECT
For the trial which is expected to last at least four weeks, the legal teams of the two sides are respectively given 25 hours to argue their case, with 125 exhibits allowed each.
Samsung apparently has a logistical advantage as it only needs to provide evidence of alleged patent infringements by iPhone and iPad, while Apple shoulders the burden of providing details of around two dozen Samsung products to prove the alleged infringements.
However, Apple is allowed to show the jury five images of the company's late co-founder Steve Jobs. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose overruled the objection by Samsung, saying that the display of the Jobs photos is relevant to Apple's claims and will not cause undue jury bias.
The trial could decide which mobile devices are available in the U.S. market, what they look like and how much they cost. But it is also expected to take many years to go.
"No matter what happens in the next few weeks, this case will in all likelihood be appealed," Brian Love, assistant professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law, told the local newspaper San Francisco Chronicle.
ELEPHANT IN ROOM
Meanwhile, since Samsung's hardware is powered by Google's Android mobile platform, Google is the elephant in the courtroom, which is actually battling Apple in the mobile market at a larger scale.
There are so far more than 50 cases between Apple and Android device makers around the world. According to The Wall Street Journal, legal representatives from Google are likely to attend the trial, but its employees are not expected to testify.
A source told the newspaper that Google lawyers have been consulting with device makers that Apple has sued, helping on matters such as the disclosure of internal company documents relevant to the case.
On Monday, a new report from research firm Strategy Analytics showed that Google's Android system started to lose ground to Apple's iOS during the second quarter in the United States, although Android still owns more than half of the market.
As for devices shipment, latest numbers from research firm IDC revealed that Samsung led over Apple in the second quarter this year on mobile phone shipments, capturing 32.6 percent of the global market. Apple had a share of 16.9 percent.
For tablet computers, Apple accounted for nearly 68 percent of the global market in the second quarter of 2012, while Samsung along with other Android tablet makers had 29 percent, according to data from Strategy Analytics.