updated 06:11 pm EDT, Mon March 31, 2014
Attorneys finding it challenging to find users uninfluenced by Apple, Samsung
[Update: jury finalized, Phil Schiller to be first witness] Jury selection is now in progress as part of the second Apple versus Samsung patent trial, this one covering a different set of patents than were covered in the first trial in 2012. Juror candidates -- some of them clearly eager to avoid serving -- are being questioned about any stock holdings in either company, whether they know anyone who works for Apple or Samsung (or their respective attorney's firms) and of course what brand of tablets, smartphones, computers and televisions they own.
Jurors are likely to be sequestered for the entire length of the trial, which is scheduled to run for a month. Consequently, there are a few candidates (who were unable to get out due to "hardship") who have been revising their statements to get attorneys to excuse them. One candidate told the court that she had an affinity for Apple, knew one of the lawyers, and then added that a friend's father works for Apple. When that didn't work, he further revealed that she had read the Steve Jobs biography, describing Jobs as "an interesting character. He was pretty angry about Android."
One selected juror said they did not own a cell phone at all. Two others were still using flip phones, and one candidate claimed not to even know what an iPad was -- and was still using a PC from 15 years ago (he did say his wife had a cell phone, but he had no idea what type or model it was). One potential juror said that his company was planning to give him a work iPhone today.
At this writing, 26 potential jurors have been selected (out of a pool of more than 100), and among the possible jurors, almost all of them use Apple devices for their computers and mobile devices (but with several owning Samsung TVs). Candidates were dismissed outright if they had close ties to the big tech firms -- a common issue in San Francisco -- or significant holdings in stock (or through a mutual fund) in either of the two companies. According to a reporter in court during the process, "only two out of [the 26] potential jurors have read Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs bio. Only one saw Ashton Kutcher in Jobs," adding "Ouch." Attorneys on both sides will soon whittle down the 26 to a total of 16 (including alternates).
Judge Lucy Koh, who oversaw the first Apple-Samsung trial, has told attorneys that she expects them to fill all juror slots today, meaning interviews will carry on into the evening. As with the first trial, Koh has imposed strict limits on time given to arguments, number of witnesses and other guidelines designed to keep the trial moving. However, because some interviews with Apple iPhone engineer Greg Christie have come out in the press talking about the birth of the iPhone, Koh allowed Samsung an extra five minutes to ask about the impact those articles may have had.
In addition to learning about how the US patent system works, jurors will find it challenging to absorb the technical details of the disputed products' designs and how the patents are incorporated (and their relative merit in the overall value consumers place in them). The trial will cover a lot of minutia about mobile device design that most consumers are happily unaware of.
Notably, none of the potential jurors said they had any "strong feelings" about the US patent system. This may mark a substantial difference in the new trial, as the first trial had a jury foreman very experienced with the patent system -- he in fact held several patents himself -- and educated the jury on intricacies and technical meanings.
Update: As has been typical for Apple in Judge Koh's courtroom, its attorneys took only half the time allotted to question the potential jurors as a group. Following Samsung's questioning, its attorneys asked for two potential jurors to be dismissed: the woman who had clearly trying to avoid serving on the jury by claiming associations with Apple and its attorneys, and another woman who had worked at a company that once sued Samsung.
Apple, which had initially refused to strike any potential jurors in the final round of questioning, agreed to allow Samsung to dismiss the two women. The two teams of lawyers used their respective challenges to whittle down the pool to six women and four men (including two alternates). Reporters inside the courtroom describe the jurors as being mostly non-tech workers: a policeman, a former IBM manager, a store clerk, a retired teacher, an executive assistant, a county government employee, an accountant, a secretary and a plumber are among the professions listed.
Apple's attorney's have informed the judge that SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller will be its first witness, and may take the stand as early as tomorrow depending on last-minute issue rulings and opening arguments.