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Apple vs. Samsung, Day Three: Into the weeds of patents

updated 03:53 am EDT, Tue April 8, 2014

Apple's case continues with engineer Deniau, experts Mowry and Snoeren

Over the weekend, Apple filed a notice with the court that it could wrap up its main presentation by tomorrow at the earliest, but expects to be done no later than Friday, barring any changes to Samsung's pattern of cross-examination. On Monday, patent expert Andrew Cockburn from New Zealand was summoned back to the witness stand for a scant 16 minutes of light cross-examination, followed by testimony from Apple engineer Thomas Deniau and a pair of additional patent experts.

As the trial got underway, a dispute between the two sides broke out over how to handle and 1,100-page source code printout that has been entered into evidence. Apple's attorneys argued that the jury should review all 100,000-plus lines of code, while both sides debated the merits of instead showing the code to jurors on secured computers. Either way, the jury -- composed almost entirely of people who are self-described as non-technical users -- will have little comprehension of what they are seeing.

The code in question, incidentally, isn't from Apple or Samsung -- it's from Google, and part of Android's source code. Google had filed a notice asking to keep the code secret, but Judge Lucy Koh rejected the request as the code is central to Samsung's argument that it didn't copy Apple's patents. Judge Koh eventually decided to print those portions of the code that are presented to witnesses for the jury to use, and put the remainder on a CD for them to review during deliberations. In turning down Apple's demand that jurors be shown all of the code, Koh said that Apple is trying to set the stage for a possible appeal should it lose the case.

The eight jurors remaining after two were excused remain in good spirits and are very cordial with each other. Samsung commenced its cross-examination of Apple expert Cockburn, who had previously explained two of the patents Samsung is contesting in the trial -- the '172 (predictive text) and '721 (slide to unlock) patents. As it has done previously, Samsung's team did not linger on the witness, asking a few clarifying questions before setting him free.

Paris-based Apple engineer Deniau then took the stand, as the inventor of the "data detector" patent ('647) that automatically creates links from phone numbers, dates and email addresses and links those to the phone application, Calendar and Contacts, respectively. Deniau's accent caused his examination time to drag on, as the court transcriptionist had to repeatedly ask for clarification of what he had said.

Deniau's primary contribution to the patent was to discover a way to add the data detectors to Mobile Safari without causing the usual lag that results of the parsing of content. In doing so, he explained the nature of data structures and how they are handled. Samsung largely declined to cross-examine Deniau, and he was followed by computer scientist Todd Mowry of Carnegie Mellon University. Mowry's presence was as an expert on the "data detector" patent and how Samsung implemented it, and whether it infringed.

During questioning, Mowry reported that he had spent 700 hours at $500 per hour over the past 2.5 years on the project. As an Apple expert witness, Mowry unsurprisingly found that Samsung and Google had both infringed on the patent, at least in the Gingerbread (2.3.x, still in use by about a third of all Android products), Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0.x versions) and Jelly Bean (4.1-4.3.x versions). Mowry's testimony included a video presentation showing how various Android phones running various versions of Android implemented the "data detector" technology.

Importantly, Mowry pointed out during Apple questioning that Samsung specifically modified its implementation of this Android feature for its own phones, meaning that on this patent at least, Samsung can't claim -- as it did in opening arguments -- that Apple is suing Samsung simply as a proxy for Google and Android generally. This assertion was followed by the infamous "copy cat" slideshow from the first trial, a Samsung document that compared 100 features of the iPhone and Samsung phones side-by-side with suggestions notated on how to make the Samsung features more like the Apple features.

During another light cross-examination, Samsung said that its products do not use the "analyzer server" that parses the content of messages for the relevant data as Apple's patent calls for, but Mowry said that they used a similar enough version of it to qualify as infringement. After Mowry, University of Califoria at San Diego computer science professor Alex Snoeren was brought in to explain his contention that 10 Samsung devices had violated two of Apple's patents. This required Snoeren to get quite technical on the details of the patents and their implementation, with further minutia discussed during the cross-examination, which mostly focused on clarifying specific terms.

While Samsung has presented numerous internal Apple documents both in its opening arguments and its cross-examinations, Apple has returned fire on that point mostly with familiar (from the first trial) Samsung internal slideshows that illustrate how closely it wanted to copy Apple. Another document presented in court on Monday showed the company's obsession with beating Apple, calling the company in 2011 "a real threat" and focusing on ways to out-market the iPhone maker -- such as adopting the name "Galaxy" across most of its smartphones, just as Apple calls all of its models "iPhone," and dramatically increasing its television and print ad budget -- rather than any indication (at the time) of trying to surpass Apple through addressing customer needs or superior technology.

Internal Samsung document
Internal Samsung document

At the end of the day, it had become obvious that Samsung's attorneys had learned an important lesson from the first trial, which was to not spend too much time on cross-examination during Apple's presentation of its case -- a mistake that cost the team dearly last time. On Tuesday, Snoeren's cross-examination will resume, with Apple listing at least one more engineer and a damages expert as future witnesses. So far, Apple has used nearly eight hours on its presentation, while Samsung has used about four hours, 20 minutes on cross (it has spent its time conservatively thus far, except for the cross-examination of Apple SVP Phil Schiller, to allow it to present its side of the case more leisurely than in the first trial). Each side is allowed up to 25 hours for both its main presentation and rebuttal.

by MacNN Staff



  1. nowayoutofmymind

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-07

    What moron would ask non-technical jurors to read/diff 100k lines of code... how would that help the case???

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    It doesn't -- Judge Koh is correct. By making an ardent request, Apple's attorney is setting up some grounds for appeal if it should lose the case. SOP for attorneys. The code in question is so large probably because it is Google's implementation of the disputed patents (but it hasn't been seen yet so we don't know that).

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