updated 11:44 pm EDT, Mon May 5, 2014
Secret Google indemnity deal 'interesting' but 'didn't change our decision'
With the trial now over in the second Apple-Samsung patent case, jurors have begun talking to the media about the case -- particularly foreman Thomas Dunham, a retired IBM supervisor. Commenting on the verdict, he said that "ultimately, the consumer is the loser in all this" and that he'd like to see the two tech giants "find a way to settle." After revising figures owing to what Dunham called a "clerical error" earlier in the day, the jury left the total awards to Samsung and Apple intact.
In the case, the jury awarded Apple $119.6 million based on Samsung's copying of three software patents that were invented by Apple. The figure was not intended to include a punitive damages award, as that will be decided by the judge in the case, US District Court Judge Lucy Koh. The jurors rejected Apple's argument that very high damages were needed in order to dissuade Samsung from copying Apple in the future, or at least did not consider it their role to award damages based on that. Apple had asked for $2.2 billion in damages (and got a mere six percent of what it asked for).
One thing that was clear was that the jury felt that Samsung was willful in its copying of Apple's patents. It assigned that designation to all of Samsung's infringement, while refusing to do the same for the token award it gave Samsung for Apple's non-willful infringement of a purchased Hitachi patent. It awarded both Apple's $120 million -- most of which ($99 million) attributed to Samsung's copying of the '647 "data detectors" patent -- and Samsung's $158,000 as a form of "forced royalty" on infringing devices. Apple ended up getting around $3 from Samsung for each of 37 million infringing devices; Samsung, which had made a point of devaluing patent worth throughout the trial, asked for $40.2 million from Apple and got a fraction of a penny per device that Apple supposedly infringed.
The jury did exonerate Samsung of copying two of Apple's patents, just as it cleared Apple of copying one of Samsung's bought (and since expired) patents. At least as far as Dunham was concerned, the low damages were not meant to "send a message to one company or another. It was based on the evidence that was presented to us." Despite this, he later made it clearer that the jury thought both companies should have settled the case through other channels. "I hope this (verdict) in some way helps shape that future," he told reporters for the San Jose Mercury News.
Dunham and another juror, Pamela Sage, also spoke to reporters about the deliberations themselves. They both agreed there was no single piece of evidence or expert testimony that swayed the jury one way or another, even when it was revealed that Google had agreed to indemnify Samsung if it had been found guilty of infringing on two other Apple patents. The jurors called the tacit admission by the company that it had a stake in the proceedings "interesting" but "it didn't change any of our thoughts," said Sage. "It didn't change our decision making in any way."
As it happens, the jury did not find Samsung guilty of infringing those patents, but suggested that they thought Google may be guilty of infringing them (inferring that Apple should go after Google), since the infringement was part of the stock Android OS. ""If they [Apple] really feel Google is the cause behind this, then don't beat around the bush," said Dunham. The question of patent validation -- which may come in future appeals of this case -- was also not addressed by the jury.
Jurors had asked twice during deliberations if they could learn more about the motivations of each company's CEO -- whether Jobs had explicitly mentioned Google in his declaration of a "holy war" on Android, or whether Samsung's head JK Shin had specifically bought the patents to attack Apple. The court ruled that the jury had to decide the questions without additional evidence beyond what was presented at trial, so the "Google factor" didn't enter into the discussions, they said.
Interestingly, Dunham said that the jury "didn't feel either [of the awards] was fair and just compensation," but worked within what they believed to be their mandate to be, which precluded any punitive damages. Both Dunham and Sage said they had been unaware of the award in the previous patent trial (which involved different patents, centered around trade dress and design rather than software). In that case, the jury awarded Apple just over a billion dollars for Samsung's infringement, though a later partial damages retrial reduced the award slightly to $939 million. The foreman in that trial had said explicitly that the award was intended as a message to Samsung to stop copying Apple.
Samsung has already declared its intention to ask the judge to nullify the jury's verdict, and will also appeal the case to the Federal Circuit Court. Apple is likely to do the same, albeit for different reasons entirely.