Apple mislead the judge and jury into thinking Samsung copied the iPhone

Now that the Apple v Samsung lawsuit has concluded (the one where Samsung lost and was ordered to pay $1.05 billion), minus appeals, the judge has ordered various documents to be unredacted and publicly available to the public. Groklaw, a legal blog, took a look at many of these newly available documents and alleges Apple mislead the judge and jury when trying to convince them that Samsung copied the iPhone.

If you followed the Apple v Samsung trial, you probably heard media reports on how Apple quoted high-level Samsung management, thanks to notes taken by Samsung employees related to meetings held by Samsung’s Head of Design and other top designers, as saying “let’s make something like the iPhone”. Apple alleged this, and other evidence, proves that Samsung’s intent was to blatantly copy the iPhone. The jury obviously agreed and slapped Samsung with a $1.05 billion fine. After reading the unredacted court files, Groklaw says Apple selectively quoted Samsung employees to get its point across; in other words, it mislead the judge and jury.

Read the following, which are various statements made by Samsung’s Head of Design as per notes taken by Samsung employees:

>>I hear things like this: Let’s make something like the iPhone.

>>When everybody (both consumers and the industry) talk about UX, they weigh it against the iPhone. The iPhone has become the standard. That’s how things are already.

>>To everyone, he said you must think at least six months ahead; be the solution to the problems that related departments come looking for. Be people with creativity.

>>Designers rightly must make their own designs with conviction and confidence; do not strive to do designs to please me (the president); instead make designs with faces that are creative and diverse.

>>Our biggest asset is our screen. It is very important that we make screen size bigger, and in the future mobile phones will absorb even the function of e-books.

The very first statement in the above quote is what Apple used to claim Samsung told its employees “let’s make something like the iPhone” while the other statements are from the same or other meetings. According to Groklaw, none of the statements present in the unredacted documents indicate Samsung encourages its employees to copy the iPhone, as Apple alleged; rather, Groklaw feels Samsung is clearly telling its employees that while the industry wants another iPhone, Samsung should be “creative and diverse”… which is nothing like telling employees to copy the iPhone. Sure the iPhone is the standard that will be used to judge Samsung devices but Samsung designers “must make their own designs with conviction and confidence”.

There are, of course, more statements and quotes available in the unredacted Samsung documents used by Apple; the above isn’t everything said by Samsung executives. If you think I’m selectively quoting Samsung (aka pulling an Apple) to prove an anti-Apple point, then you are more than welcome to hit up the source link to read Groklaw’s full analysis. However, I assure you that you will find nothing that hints at Samsung trying to copy the iPhone. At best you will find Samsung designers being encouraged to focus on “comfort and ease of use” and “do [their] best not to create a plastic feeling and instead create a metallic feel”. To some this may sound iPhone-esque but to the logical reader, these statements simply show Samsung is trying to meet the standards set by the iPhone — not copy it.

Of course it can be said all is fair in war, and Apple was (is) within their rights to claim whatever they want at trial; it was (is) the job of Samsung’s lawyers to discredit Apple’s claims. When it comes to convincing the jury, I would agree with the latter statement, although, as Samsung pointed out numerous times after losing the case, a time limit was imposed on both Apple and Samsung and Samsung says this prevented them from mounting a proper defense. The real question is how Apple’s trickery got past the judge.

You see before the trial Samsung was ordered to supply Apple with any and all documents that may show that Samsung copied the iPhone. Samsung didn’t initially provide the notes that are quoted above in this article and that were quoted by Apple during trial because Samsung felt they don’t show any copying of the iPhone (and the lawyer from Groklaw agrees with them). However, Apple obviously felt otherwise and looked to get Samsung sanctioned for this lack of compliance to court orders. To convince the judge that these documents show Samsung copying the iPhone, Apple selectively quoted Samsung’s Head of Design and did not present the judge with the whole picture/context of the quotes. It isn’t entirely clear if Samsung was indeed sanctioned by the magistrate judge (the judge hearing pre-trial motions) but the documents were eventually allowed into evidence for Apple to use as ammo against Samsung during trial.

Of course it isn’t a surprise that Apple played dirty. I’m sure Samsung also played dirty… they just weren’t as successful at it. Still, it is telling to learn that what we read in the media about Samsung’s Head of Design encouraging employees to copy the iPhone was (is), in fact, misquoted bullshit.

[via CNET, Groklaw | image via NightRStar]

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9 comments

  1. JMJ

    Yet another article here whose headline is intentionally written to be inflammatory and which itself is misleading.

    Samsung provided the subject documents to the Court and to Apple as required by the rules of “discovery”; i.e., each side has to provide the other and the Court with the “evidence” it intends to present at trial. Does any *backseat* attorney — here, or anywhere else, actually believe that Samsung’s lawyers did not address at trial what is alleged to be a quote taken out of context?

    Federal judges definitely are no dummies. All the attorneys working this case, especially those arguing it, are top shelf. And, I have to believe that the jurors were at least as smart as the author of this yellow-journalism article who appears to be trolling us to generate hits to this site.

    Personally, only because I find most of dotTech to be credible and of high quality have I taken (wasted?) my time by engaging with this crass manipulation of fact and readers.

    Shame on the author and editor.

  2. Mike

    @Coyote: I don’t think that bill padding ever came into it: given the amounts at stake, I’m sure that there already were many hours spent on each of the lawsuit issues, and that the lawyers were being very thorough about it–nothing was done in 2 minutes, where billions of dollars were at stake.

  3. Mike

    @cpusrvc: I guess I’m not sure what you’re referring to: this lawsuit only came back from trial recently and only now will be going up on appeal from the jury verdict. Perhaps you’re thinking of one of the many other Apple/Samsung lawsuits?

  4. Coyote

    I hate to put doubt on all the conspiracy and theories but I’m betting the apple lawyers just did a text search for “iphone”, “steve jobs”, etc. They then saw this quote, gave each other a high 5. Also I assume this took 2 minutes, for which they charged 40+ hours of lawyers fees.

  5. Mike

    I think that Ashraf put his finger on a major issue: it was Apple’s lawyers’ job to present Apple’s best, plausible case, and it was Samsung’s lawyers’ job to refute it. From what I’ve seen, Samsung’s lawyers just couldn’t do so, to the jury’s satisfaction. While Samsung’s lawyers are arguing that the judge didn’t give them sufficient time to do so, part of their job was to do the best with the time they had–the judge clearly didn’t believe that they were doing so, from what I’ve read.

    And proving an intent to copy is not a requirement to prove patent infringement. Although it is helpful and can enhance lawsuit damages, patent infringement, generally, is strict liability–if you did it, you’re liable, whether you intended to infringe or not. Part of the problem here, and with patents nowadays generally as they sometimes have been issued, is that with broad patents, you may find it hard NOT to infringe . . . .