Yesterday, we watched as Samsung spent much of their time playing defense and somewhere in there, even managed to convince Judge Koh to toss out a few of Galaxy devices from being grouped into Apple’s patent infringement claims. Today, Samsung moved ahead with their counter suit claims and according to South Korean manufacturer, Apple themselves aren’t immune to patent infringement. Allegedly, the Cupertino-based company is violating 3 of Samsung’s very own unique patents. Wait — Samsung owns patents? Yeah, took us by surprise as well.
Samsung’s Email, Photo, and Music Patents
Samsung’s legal team called a Dr. Woodward Yang to the witness stand where he gave his expert opinion on Samsung’s utility patents and the specific Apple devices trampling all over them. Samsung’s patents in particular deal with the sending of emails and photo browsing on a device equipped with a camera. The doctor demonstrated a few of these patents in a video in which Samsung claims the iPhone 4, 3G, and 3GS, iPad and iPod Touch were all guilty of infringing on thanks to their iOS 4 and iOS 5 software. Sounds a bit weak, I know. But this is Samsung attempting to fight fire with fire.
The iPad almost managed to get off the hook after it wasn’t found using Samsung’s invention of navigating images “through the use of scroll keys,” but a little clause called the “Doctrine of Equivalents” gives already vague patents even more leeway by covering items that provide equivalent functionality to the claimed invention. Sounds great for the inventor of the SlapChop who wants to sue the maker of the Chop N’ Slap, but this is downright nuts when talking about software.
Another Samsung owned patent is the ability to browse photos in gallery, jump into something like a camera application, and return back to the gallery app at the same exact point they left off. Yes, folks, this really is a patent but that’s not all. Samsung also owns a patent for — who would have guessed – listening to music in the background on a “pocket-sized” mobile device. Of course, that leaves out the iPad (far too big to pocket) but finds the rest of Apple’s products in direct violation (and just about every other mobile device known to man).
Samsung Talks Icons
Later, Samsung’s icon designer Jeeyeun Wang took the stand to defend her work involving the similarities between the icons found in TouchWiz and those in iOS. Wang insisted the icons — in particular, that green phone icon — was designed without any inspiration from Apple’s icon. Apparently, Wang came up with several alternatives to the green phone icon, (like an icon of a tiny cellphone with an antenna sticking out) but it confused users. Wang said the final icon was chosen out of “necessity” and not with intent to copy. While I agree an image of anything other than a traditional phone receiver wouldn’t be immediately recognizable, I think Apple did a good job of presenting their case that Samsung directly designed their TouchWiz UI with iOS in mind.
iPhone’s Design Isn’t Unique
When it came to Apple’s smartphone design patents, Samsung called on Itay Sherman, a design “expert,” to give his view on Apple’s iconic iPhone design. In his professional opinion, Sherman said Apple’s smartphone and tablet designs were “obvious,” not unique, and that a black slab with rounded corners should have never been granted a patent. Sherman went on to show the LG Prada, a similarly designed phone from Samsung’s Korean rival, and a device that predated the iPhone. When Sherman went on to point out the rounded edges of the iPhone made it easier to pull from the pocket (hinting at a utilitarian design and not ornamental) Apple’s legal team pounced. Apple showed Sherman several devices currently on the market today (like the Nokia Lumia for instance), forcing Sherman to admit that other designs would fit the utility he described without “copying” Apple’s design.
Testimonies should finish this week and once those are over, we’ll have to wait to hear from the jury to see who came out on top. We’ll keep you guys updated.