Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Samsung wasn't allowed to compare Apple's damages claim to cost of Curiosity Mars rover

Samsung is pretty much in "appeals mode" against Apple and just filed with the court a variety of exhibits and slides that Judge Lucy Koh had excluded from the Apple v. Samsung trial. I guess Samsung will reference some of this material in its forthcoming post-trial motion for relief (due on Friday) and, subsequently, in the opening brief for its appeal to the Federal Circuit. Apple has now also begun to file its excluded material and will certainly use it in similar ways.

One of Samsung's filings contains excluded slides that would have formed part of Samsung's closing presentation to the jury. And one of the excluded closing demonstratives juxtaposed, under the headline of "Apple's $2.75 Billion Damages Claim In Context", Apple's total damages claim to a diversity of investments and expenditures that have nothing to do with the legal issues in Apple v. Samsung but were just meant to underscore that $2.75 billion is a lot of money. These are the points of comparison Samsung wanted to show in a colorful bar chart:

  • the Transamerica Pyramid skyscraper in San Francisco ($176 million)

  • the HP Pavilion, a sports and entertainment venue in San Jose ($261 million)
  • the AT&T Park, the stadium of the San Francisco Giants baseball team ($482 million)

  • the StarPrincess cruise ship ($549 million)

  • the 75-year-old Golden Gate Bridge (which did not cost $1.2 billion at the time it was built, but that amount is the estimated cost if it had to rebuilt nowadays)

  • the proposed budget for the city of San Jose, where the trial took place, for 2013 ($2.6 billion)

  • the Curiosity Mars rover ($2.6 billion)

Here's the slide (click on the image to enlarge):

It's fun to look at, but I think Judge Koh did the right thing by excluding it. This kind of argument would have confused the jury. Samsung would rather spend its money on some of the proposed alternatives, but the question the jury had to answer is what damages Apple managed to prove. There's nothing in the law that says patent damages can never exceed the cost of a Mars rover or be a multiple of the cost of a skyscraper or baseball stadium. That's why this kind of comparison is irrelevant. Irrelevant as it may be, Samsung's bar chart illustrates the economic dimension of the $2.75 billion Apple asked for (and presumably continues to demand) and provides some interesting points of comparison for the $1.05 billion the jury awarded to Apple.

The Curiosity Rover comparison is not the only outer-space kind of argument that Samsung was barred from making at the trial. Judge Koh also prohibited any invalidity arguments based on 2001: A Space Odyssey. Samsung was forced to focus on down-to-earth arguments.

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