An industrial designer testifying for Apple Inc. (AAPL) in its multibillion-dollar trial against Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) said the South Korean company copied patented technology for smartphones and tablet computers.
Apple today called as a witness Peter Bressler, the founder and chairman of Philadelphia-based BresslerGroup and an inventor on 70 design and utility patents who teaches product design at the University of Pennsylvania.
Apple and Samsung are the world’s largest makers of the high-end handheld devices that blend the functionality of a phone and a computer. The trial is the first before a U.S. jury in a battle being waged on four continents for dominance in a smartphone market valued by Bloomberg Industries at $219.1 billion. Each company is trying to convince jurors that its rival infringed patents covering designs and technology.
Bressler is an expert in “user research, human factors application, manufacturing processes and innovative criteria conflict resolution,” according to his website. His testimony may continue to lay the groundwork for Apple’s infringement claims, which Apple started last week with Scott Forstall, the company’s senior vice president in charge of iPhone and iPad software. He gave jurors the first detailed testimony about one of the patents at issue.
Apple seeks $2.5 billion for its claims that Samsung infringed patents. Samsung, based in Suwon, South Korea, countersued and will present claims that Apple is infringing two patents covering mobile-technology standards and three utility patents. Apple, based in Cupertino, California, also wants to make permanent a preliminary ban it won on U.S. sales of a Samsung tablet, and extend the ban to Samsung smartphones.
Bressler said he had studied different versions of the iPhone in preparation for his testimony. Shown diagrams from Apple’s patents and actual phones based on them, he described the “rectangular proportion” of the diagrams as providing “a specific impression or design.”
The phones “embody the design of the patent,” he said in response to questions from Apple’s lawyer, Rachel Krevans.
Bressler said he performed an infringement analysis of the Galaxy S 4G phone and found that its “flat, uninterrupted surface” and “rectangular proportions” infringe Apple’s patents. He said he arrived at the same conclusion after doing a similar analysis for more than 10 other Samsung phones and a Samsung tablet.
Before trial, Apple won a court order from U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh temporarily blocking U.S. sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet, a ruling that was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington.
Bressler said the “prior art,” or earlier inventions, that Samsung argues are in patents preceding Apple’s describe a different product. Those patents Samsung is relying on to defend against the infringement claims describe front screens that are convex, not flat, he said.
Earlier today the jury heard from Samsung Vice President Justin Denison, the company’s chief strategy officer for Samsung Telecommunications America, who said he finds “offensive” claims his company is copying Apple.
Samsung is proud of the “products it produces, and all the hard work that goes into bringing those products to market,” Denison said. Samsung “does an excellent job of remaining very humble,” with its employees possessing a “self-critical” attitude that drives “change, innovation,” Denison said under questioning from Samsung’s lawyer, John Quinn.
Dennison was asked under cross-examination by another Apple lawyer, William Lee, about a Samsung employee’s e-mail saying the company was experiencing a “crisis of design” due to competition from Apple’s iPhone, that the comparison between Apple’s phone and Samsung’s is that of “heaven and earth,” and that the time “to change our methods has arrived.”
The expression is “typical hyperbole” found at Samsung, the real message being to “encourage people to work harder and motivate them,” Denison said.
Denison testified that Samsung introduces as many as 50 new phones each year and in the U.S., sells as many as 100 different phones at any given time. He said Samsung sells different versions of its Galaxy phones to different carriers, because the companies “want to differentiate their portfolio” and “ask for some element of uniqueness.”
Denison also said Samsung added several features to its smartphones that were later adopted by Apple, including voice- command technology and higher-resolution screens. He said he wasn’t offended by Apple’s use of those features.
The company’s Galaxy phones have become more successful over time, as screens for Samsung smartphones have become larger and the company added features, he said.
Apple and Samsung are battling for leadership in the global smartphone market. As companies including Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) and Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) face mounting losses, the two rivals are garnering a larger piece of the market’s profits. According to a report released today by Michael Walkey, a technology-industry analyst with Canaccord Genuity, Apple and Samsung have captured 108 percent of handset industry profits because other competitors are losing money.
The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., 11- cv-01846, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).
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