Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Apple wants U.S. district court to obscure Samsung logo on video display for jurors

After just blogging about the technical and timeline-related part of a joint Apple-Samsung filing made a few hours ago, I now have some tidbits from the filing that are, in a way, more entertaining.

In their filing, the parties explain, among many other things, what kinds of evidence-related issues they plan to raise ahead of the trial that is currently scheduled to begin on July 30 but may slip (as I stated in my aforementioned post). In this context, there are some true "gems":

  • Apple intends to bring a motion for "[o]bscuring the 'Samsung' logo on the court's video display for jurors". Apparently the United States District Court for the Northern District of California uses Samsung equipment for this purpose.

    At first sight, this may seem very funny, but I actually understand why Apple would make this request: at a conscious level, it can show to jurors that Samsung actually contributes technology to the U.S. government, and at a subconscious level, it creates the impression of the court being Samsung territory.

  • Apple wants the court to exclude any "argument or evidence regarding statements attributed to Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson". This one obviously relates to the "thermonuclear war" quote and similar rhetoric. On the one hand, I can understand Apple because I see Android device makers present select pages from that biography to courts all the time, even in contexts in which a factual connection with such issues as patent exhaustion is, at best, questionable. On the other hand, Apple is going to tell the jury its story of Samsung being a copycat that unfairly exploits Apple's technologies and designs, and Samsung must have a fair chance to counter those allegations.

  • Apple furthermore wants the court to exclude "any reference to working conditions in China". In my opinion, it's legitimate for Samsung to point to the fact that Apple doesn't manufacture in the United States (in this industry, nobody does -- not even Motorola with its great American tradition), and I would understand if Samsung also wanted to point to Apple's global tax strategies, but the Foxconn situation is, in my view, of too little relevance to this case relative to the prejudice this means to Apple in the eyes of the jury.

Many of Samsung's envisioned requests for exclusion of evidence and argument relate to material and testimony that praises Apple's technological innovation and unique design, such as:

  • Samsung wants the court to exclude "Apple related blogs, and articles by non-expert newspaper reporters, regarding any assessment of Apple and Samsung and/or their products".

  • Samsung wants the court to strike the "opinions and testimony of Henry Urbach, Apple's expert on the alleged cultural significance of Apple". Samsung argues that "[t]he 'cultural significance' of Apple's designs and Apple's 'commitment to design' are not at issue in this litigation". It furthermore complains that Urbach's "report essentially consists of his own subjective and conclusory opinion that Apple products are desirable--'[b]eautiful, even stunning.'" Samsung also takes issue with his opinions, and notes that he commented on his claim that "[c]ertain exceptionally alluring products may even reach the status of a fetish" with the following explanation, which I think definitely has an unusual style and which Samsung thinks is "not helpful to the jury":

    "An object that is a fetish is not something that is merely used, but it is something that holds a kind of auratic power. It holds the authority to compel because it stands in for something else. It promises to secure or deliver, a god is a good example of that, a god that promises good fortune or immortality or fertility."

  • Samsung also wants the exclusion of "opinions of Sanjay Sood, Apple‘s expert on consumer decision making", who says that Apple is "known for design" and has "design in [its] DNA", which Samsung considers just as unhelpful as his assessment of the "importance of design in smartphone product choice based on irrelevant studies conducted about reactions to such basic products as lamps, staplers, tape dispensers, and alarm clocks".

Some of the above plays a role mostly or only in connection with the determination of damages.

At this stage, the parties have just announced their intent to bring such motions as the ones described above. When the motions are actually filed, I guess we'll see an interesting exchange of pleadings.

If you'd like to be updated on the smartphone patent disputes and other intellectual property matters I cover, please subscribe to my RSS feed (in the right-hand column) and/or follow me on Twitter @FOSSpatents and Google+.

Share with other professionals via LinkedIn: