A federal court jury in Apple Inc.’s patent trial against Samsung Electronics Co. is set to be the first in the U.S. to hear lawyers’ arguments and evidence in the global dispute over smartphone technology.
The panel selected yesterday include a man who filed for his own technology patents, a woman who worked for a semiconductor company, and an aspiring software engineer.
While the interests and professional backgrounds of those jurors reflect the Silicon Valley pool from which the panel was drawn, another juror didn’t go to college and works in construction. A Google Inc. engineer who Apple fought to get removed early in the selection process over the objections of U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, was eliminated in the final cut.
The seven men and three women are scheduled to hear opening arguments today in a trial that is part of a battle being fought on four continents for dominance of a mobile-device market that Bloomberg Industries said was $312 billion last year.
Apple, the iPhone maker based in Cupertino, California, seeks $2.5 billion for its claims that Samsung infringed patents covering designs and technology for mobile devices. 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. Samsung is demanding royalties of as much as 2.4 percent for each device sold, according to a court filing.
Yesterday, Koh thinned the pool of jury candidates with questions screening for any bias that might prevent them being impartial in the case.
In the 20 minutes Koh allotted lawyers to speak to potential jurors, Bill Price, a lawyer for Samsung, offered a sports analogy for all potential jurors.
He asked jurors if their opinions about a referee’s call against a favored team were ever less than objective “because you’re leaning one way or another you see things different?” He continued by asking if any jurors were inclined to think Asian or Korean companies are more inclined to “cheat” compared to another company “nearby and iconic?”
Jurors remained silent after both questions.
Four jury candidates were dismissed by Koh before lawyers weighed in with their preferences, which were discussed privately among lawyers at their tables and at Koh’s bench. Koh twice rejected a request by William Lee, a lawyer for Apple, to dismiss “for cause” the Google engineer who said he owns shares in his company.
The engineer said he started at Google before it bought YouTube, working on user interface layouts. He said he had worked on the company’s AdWords program, maps and a version of the company’s Android operating system called Jelly Bean. He said he assisted in some capacity with patents covering some of those technologies.
“His credibility, as far as I’m concerned, I believe it when he says he can be fair and impartial,” Koh said, noting that the juror said his family owns many Apple products. “For right now he’s been solid that he can be fair and impartial, so he’s staying on,” Koh said.
The engineer was later dismissed from the jury after lawyers for both sides conferred with each other.
The engineer who applied for his own patents told the court he worked in the hard-drive industry. He said he’s married with two children and that he had worked for Memorex, Digital Equipment and Seagate, among other companies. during the seven years it took him to get the patent approved, he was “active” with his lawyer during the process, he said.
A woman serving on the jury said she worked for National Semiconductor Corp. and now works in retail. She said her husband worked for Applied Materials Inc.
The construction worker, with two children from a previous marriage lives in Gilroy, California, with his wife who also has children from an earlier marriage. He said his hobbies include working on cars and motorcycles.
One juror said he hopes to go to college to study software development for video games. Early in the selection process he asked Koh if his grandparents’ Apple shares disqualified him from serving on the jury.
The judge asked if he stood to profit from the stock? The judge said he was fit to serve after he told her the only way he might benefit is if the shares were somehow passed on to him through his parents.
The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., 11-cv-01846, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).