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Apple to call execs, Samsung employees at patent trial

updated 01:55 am EDT, Mon July 30, 2012

Samsung may call some Apple, Intel employees

Witnesses appearing at the US trial of Apple versus Samsung run the gamut from early Apple employees and current executives to Samsung employees and expert witnesses. The case, which is seeking billions in damages from Samsung for allegedly "slavishly copying" Apple's software and hardware designs and enriching itself off the patent and copyright infringement, is scheduled to start early Monday in a California courtroom under District Judge Lucy Koh.

The first witness Apple plans to call is a current Samsung executive, US strategy head Justin Denison -- followed by an early iPhone development engineer named Chris Stringer and Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller. The company will also introduce the testimony of three other Samsung employees via depositions.

Among the other recognizable names Apple plans to call are early employee and influential icon designer Susan Kare, and Senior VP of iOS Development Scott Forstall. The company also plans on producing its Director of Patents and Licensing, Boris Teksler, operations head Tony Blevins, computer scientist Paul Dourish and industrial designer and University of Pennsylvania professor Peter Bressler. Apple also plans to have more than a dozen other employees and experts testify on its behalf.

Samsung is also calling some Apple employees as witnesses, including iPhone Product Marketing Manager Steve Sinclair and designer Richard Howarth. The company is also calling at least four expert witnesses and Intel's Marcus Paltian, but will also call designer Hyoung Shin Park to testify that the company pursues original design in its products. Samsung is counter-charging Apple with infringing on its own patents, though it has thus far been unable to prove this in numerous cases.

Samsung's case appears to center on the idea that Apple itself was influenced by another company, Sony, in coming up with the design of the original iPhone. The argument, which some might see as a tacit admission by Samsung that it copied Apple but considered it okay to do so, was to have been questioned with Samsung's calling of former Apple designer Shin Nishibori.

However, Nishibori has sent notice (through counsel) to the court of his refusal to appear, citing health reasons, improper serving of a subpoena, and his lack of standing in the case. Nishibori was allegedly directed by Senior VP of Industrial Design Sir Jonathan Ive to create a "Sony-style" smartphone design during the early stages of iPhone prototyping.

The witnesses will follow open arguments in the trial, but have been limited by Judge Koh to a total of 45 witnesses and only 25 hours of testimony for each side, considered a severe restriction but one that hurts Samsung more than Apple. The Korean smartphone maker originally submitted a list of 192 witnesses, and has also been criticized for excessiveness in its jury questionnaire -- which was originally over 40 pages long (Apple's was six) and asked 700 questions (Apple asked 29).

Before the opening arguments can begin, however, a jury must be seated. The contentiousness demonstrated by Samsung so far in the process (the company has generally tried to obfuscate and delay the trial at every turn) is sure to continue in the jury-selection process, even though the company finally agreed to limit its questionnaire to 12 pages. Samsung's questions include asking for opinions on Apple's late co-founder Steve Jobs, and whether the jurors use an Android or iOS device.

Both Apple and Samsung have already been found guilty by the judge of "overdesignating" documents as confidential, and Koh said that she intends to make all exhibits from both companies public except those with some third-party source code. The judge has spent the last few months forcing both Apple and Samsung to winnow down their claims in an effort to make the trial manageable, though most of the dropped claims can be restated by either company in a different or later case.

by MacNN Staff



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