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Apple vs. Samsung: The Cage Match Begins

A simmering global patent war finally reaches a U.S. jury
Apple vs. Samsung: The Cage Match Begins
Arms: Dreamtime/Photonica/Getty Images; iPhone: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Copycat or competitor? A U.S. jury’s choice of descriptor for Samsung Electronics will determine whether Apple defeats its Korean rival in the global patent war’s biggest battle yet. For two years, Apple has fought with other mobile device makers in courts on four continents. On July 31, the Apple litigation juggernaut went before a U.S. jury for the first time in the federal courthouse in San Jose, Calif., a short drive from Apple’s Cupertino headquarters. Seeking $2.5 billion in damages, Apple has accused Samsung of unlawfully imitating the design and software of its iPhone and iPad. “As we all know, it’s easier to copy than to innovate,” Harold McElhinny, Apple’s lead trial lawyer, told jurors in his opening argument.

Samsung’s attorney, Charles Verhoeven, fired back that while his client may have been “inspired” by Apple, such imitation is perfectly appropriate. “Being inspired by a good product and seeking to make even better products is called competition,” Verhoeven said. “Everybody does it in the commercial marketplace.” Then he foreshadowed evidence that purports to show that the iPhone, introduced in 2007, itself resembled earlier products designed by Sony and others.