Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Apple v. Samsung: The patent trial of the century starts today

July 30, 2012: 8:02 AM ET

The end of the beginning of Apple's proxy war against Google

Where the trial will be held. Credit: Michelle Meyers/CNET

FORTUNE -- The most important confrontation in the "thermonuclear war" Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs launched against Google's (GOOG) Android operating system two years ago is scheduled to begin in earnest Monday when two armies of opposing lawyers meet in a federal courthouse in San Jose, Calif.

Their first order of business: To pick the 10-member jury that will decide the case.

The highly-technical confrontation pits the world's most valuable company, whose iPhone once dominated the touchscreen smartphone market and whose iPad still has the largest share of tablet computers, against South Korea's largest manufacturer, which makes tablets and phones that run Google's Android operating system and whose smartphones are now outselling Apple's.

The issues are starkly laid out in first sentences of each side's pretrial briefs:

Apple's brief: "Samsung is on trial because it made a deliberate decision to copy Apple's iPhone and iPad."

Samsung's brief: "In this lawsuit, Apple seeks to stifle legitimate competition and limit consumer choice to maintain its historically exorbitant profits."

The two sides have been jockeying for position behind the scenes for months. One series of pretrial motions made headlines last month when Judge Lucy Koh, a former patent lawyer, reversed herself and issued a preliminary injunction banning the sale of Samsung's Galaxy 10.1 tablet pending the outcome of the trial.

Dozens more pretrial motions were unsealed last Thursday in a legal data dump almost too large to digest. But a sampling of their contents gave the tech reporters following the trial a preview of how each side plans to proceed.

Among the details that have emerged:

  • Apple is demanding more than $2.5 billion in sales, damages and lost profits for Samsung's alleged infringement of its smartphone patents. For its part, Samsung is reportedly demanding 2.4% of Apple's sales for use of its mobile communications technology. Apple 2.0.
  • Apple will show the jury a chart that suggests the design of Samsung's mobile devices changed abruptly after it saw the iPhone. Samsung's version of the chart will show at least 10 iPhone-like designs created in Samsung's labs before the iPhone was unveiled. Apple 2.0.
  • Apple will introduce evidence that Samsung was warned by a panel of outside designers that its smartphones and tablets looked too much like the iPhone and iPad, and that Google actually demanded that the devices be redesigned so that they wouldn't be too similar to Apple's. AllThingsD.
  • Samsung will claim the iPhone's design changed after Apple hired a designer from Sony and got wind of their plans. Apple fought hard to keep the jury from seeing that evidence. AllThingsD.
  • The judge will instruct the jury (on Apple's insistence) that Samsung allowed evidence to be destroyed even though they knew it might be relevant, and that the jury may (but need not) assume that the evidence would have hurt Samsung's case. Foss Patents.
  • Samsung tried to prevent Apple from showing the jury five slides in its opening presentation because the images of Steve Jobs they contained might prejudice the jury. Late Sunday, Judge Koh ruled that the images were relevant and could be shown. FOSS Patents.
  • Apple, on the other hand, has so far been able to keep Jobs' remarks about "thermonuclear war" out of the record, despite Samsung's objections. (Apple 2.0).

More details as they come to light.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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