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Sci&Tech

Judge scolds Samsung, lets patent trial proceed

Family members hold portraits of former Samsung Electronics workers, Hwang Yoo-mi (R) and Han Hye-gyong during a protest in front of a Samsung office building in central Seoul August 6, 2012. (REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won)

SAN JOSE, California: The judge in a massive smartphone patent dispute reprimanded Samsung Friday for releasing excluded evidence but denied a bid by Apple to order a verdict in the case.

Judge Lucy Koh expressed irritation with Samsung's releasing to the media of documents she had ruled were not to be viewed by the jury in the trial over patent infringement involving the iPhone and other mobile devices.

Koh said Samsung lawyers "were on notice that the possibility of a jury taint was real," and scolded them for "a willful attempt to propagate that evidence they knew had been excluded."

But she rejected Apple's request for additional sanctions or to order a verdict in favor of the Silicon Valley firm.

She polled the jurors, asking if they had read any press coverage. One said he read a headline online, but did not read any articles. The others said they had read nothing.

"I will not let any theatrics or sideshows distract us from what we are here to do, which is to fairly hear this case," said Koh.

Apple said in court documents released Thursday that "Samsung and its counsel have engaged in bad faith litigation misconduct by attempting to prejudice the jury" by releasing documents suggesting Samsung was working on its own smartphone before the iPhone was released.

"Samsung was not allowed to tell the jury the full story and show the pre-iPhone design... in development at Samsung in 2006, before the iPhone," said the statement from the South Korean firm.

As testimony resumed, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Philip Schiller, said he was stunned by copying from the South Korean electronics giant.

Schiller said that Apple had spent more than $1 billion marketing iPhones and iPads since 2008, in a campaign that presents the "product as a hero."

The goal was to instill products with a high "lust factor," said Schiller.

When Samsung came out with its Galaxy line of smartphones similar to the iPhone, Schiller testified that he was "shocked" and that the copying created problems for his marketing team.

"When someone comes up with a product that copies that design and copies (our) marketing, customers get confused about whose product is whose," said Schiller.

Schiller said he was "even more shocked" when Samsung launched its Galaxy tablet computer, alleged to be a copy of the iPad.

He said his reaction was, "they've done it again, they're just going to copy our entire product line."

Jurors on Tuesday began hearing the biggest US patent trial in decades, with billions at stake for the tech giants.

Apple is seeking more than $2.5 billion in the case accusing the South Korean firm of infringing on designs and other patents from the iPhone and iPad maker.

This is one of several cases in courts around the world involving the two electronics giants in the hottest part of the tech sector -- tablet computers and smartphones.

While the results so far have been mixed in courts in Europe and Australia, Samsung is clearly on the defensive in the US case.

 

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