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Apple v. Samsung Jurors Speak, Skipped Prior Art For "Bogging Us Down" 506

Posted by timothy
from the that-stuff'll-just-get-in-the-way dept.
eldavojohn writes "PJ over at Groklaw has consolidated some of the more interesting juror comments made following the landmark $1 billion settlement. Apparently the foreman (a patent holder himself) took the jury through the process of how patents work and thus allowed them to return so quickly with a verdict without need of any instructions on how to work through all the material. Most sources are incredulous that all of the information was considered in the process. CNET quotes a juror as saying 'After we debated that first patent — what was prior art — because we had a hard time believing there was no prior art, that there wasn't something out there before Apple. In fact we skipped that one so we could go on faster. It was bogging us down.' While the fact that they they voted one way on infringement and another way on invalidity shows they were at least consistent, Groklaw is reporting on some odd inconsistencies in the aftermath of accounts from jurors. The appeal for something this huge goes without question but the accounts collected at Groklaw make this verdict and verdict process sound hasty, ambiguous and probably the result of one man's (the foreman's) personal opinion of patents."
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Apple v. Samsung Jurors Speak, Skipped Prior Art For "Bogging Us Down"

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  • by Dyinobal (1427207) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @10:41AM (#41129103)
    So what was this Foreman's patent in? Did he have some reason to want there to be stronger legal precedent for, software/design patents? Why did the other Jurors simply follow this mans lead? Was it group think, at its worst or were they just eager to get the hell home because the entire trial was boring and silly in their minds and the fastest way to get out of there was to slap down a billion dollar number and then call it a day?
  • by goombah99 (560566) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @10:53AM (#41129169)

    It looks like samsung ships 20 to 45 million smart phones and tablets per quarter. If so then 1 billion is less than ten bucks per phone, possibly way less. This is not a terribly inappropriate sum or one that's going to ruin samsung. Indeed samsung would have been glad to pay a billion for the opportunity to take Nokia's market share away from them. Nokia elected to use patent indemnified Windows, they exchanged patents with apple, and Microsoft paid for patents to apple as well. Samsung got the market jump on nokia going the faster but less vetted approach of Android. They, according to their own documents, made deliberate decisions to chuck their in house designs where they differed from apples.

    Samsung is coming out handsomly since it now has Nokia's market.

  • by ElitistWhiner (79961) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @10:55AM (#41129187) Journal

    This was a simple exercise of recognizing a duck and whether there were any before Apple hatched the egg first.

    Samsung whined. Jurors were listening for a quack

  • by Zocalo (252965) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @11:03AM (#41129235) Homepage
    ... and there's a potential huge opportunity for Samsung's marketing department here. As seen here [google.com], a court has just effectively ruled that Samsung's products are equivalent to Apple's. So, other than the Apple logo and brand name, why would you want an iThing when you can have the Samsung equivalent for any from a few tens of bucks to several hundred bucks less? After all, according to a US District Court, they are now essentially the same thing!

    The trick (of course) would be for Samsung to pull off the marketing campaign without being found in contempt of court or getting their products pulled from the shelves...
  • Re:phew (Score:1, Interesting)

    by sribe (304414) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @11:04AM (#41129239)

    Care to proffer these "objective pieces" so we can stray from Groklaw's "fairly anti-apple" bias?

    Unfortunately, they're hard to find. There's a piece here and there, but no really good source that's been consistent. Maybe this trial was just too polarizing.

    But Groklaw (which I have followed and loved for years) has really jumped the shark on this one, and gone into a paroxysm of denial and twisting of the facts and hysteria--which I've talked about a bit elsewhere in this thread (see "Groklaw is too emotionally involved"). They started off better, but slowly descended to the edge of absolute madness, example: claiming that the thing with raised yellow rubberized bumpers in Soylent Green was indistinguishable from an iPad!

    From excerpts I've seen, FOSS Patents was actually more on target with this one, but I refuse to read him, because I know how badly he misrepresents things, how completely unable he is to objectively evaluate. (And what a liar he has been in the past--see opposition to Oracle's purchase of MySQL and his letter to EU commission.) So to the extent that he was right, I would consider that an accident of his prejudice aligning with reality, for once.

  • by GuyRiley (836754) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @11:34AM (#41129423)
    So.... this guy patented putting a wireless keyboard and SD card slot on a cable box? Wow, no wonder things shook out the way they did.
  • by sribe (304414) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @11:53AM (#41129569)

    Did you even read Groklaw? The quote is from CNET. Groklaw quoted CNET sufficient and made some conclusions.

    Uhm, yes, I do. The quote on CNET was complete enough, and Groklaw completely twisted it, and drew a conclusion from it that is completely unfounded. Did you read the quote? Maybe read it again, carefully this time, and identify exactly the part that says the jury decided not to consider prior art in their decision. (Hint: it says no such thing!)

  • Is everyone OK? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @12:14PM (#41129743)

    Apparently the foreman (a patent holder himself) took the jury through the process of how patents work and thus allowed them to return so quickly with a verdict without need of any instructions on how to work through all the material.

    Doesn't this qualify as a mistrial? [nytimes.com] Was the material in the form of foreman's explanation vetted by the court? Is it admissible as expert testimony? As a guideline perhaps?

  • damages (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 26, 2012 @12:46PM (#41129917)

    The other major issue that has surfaced is the calculation of damages. The foreman stated, "we wanted to make sure the message we sent was not just a slap on the wrist...we wanted to make sure it was sufficiently high to be painful, but not unreasonable." If the jurors had bothered to read the jury instructions, they would have hopefully understood that the damages were supposed to be compensatory for lost sales (people buying Samsung thinking they were buying an iphone), not punitive. The inconsistent and seemingly arbitrary breakdown of damages by device reflects this.

  • by symbolset (646467) * on Sunday August 26, 2012 @01:17PM (#41130167) Homepage Journal
    Yes, he patented the DVR two years after the release of the TIVO. So he would know a thing or two about prior art.
  • by Solandri (704621) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @01:34PM (#41130259)

    And also, on the last day, they showed the pictures of the phones that Samsung made before the iPhone came out and ones that they made after the iPhone came out.

    So the decision to exclude evidence (of Samsung's phones in development prior to the iPhone's release) based on a technicality did in fact influence the outcome. Who would've guessed.

    As I said before the verdict, the whole purpose of having deadlines in a court case is so that the trial proceeds in a timely manner. Why? So the delays in the trial do not negate the value of any potential outcome. i.e. the cost of achieving justice does not exceed the value of justice. Here we clearly had the opposite case, where the value of justice (billions of dollars either way) obviously would far, far outweigh the cost of a trial delay. The judge erred in disallowing that evidence due to a missed deadline, and I suspect we're going to have to sit through and pay for yet another trial to correct that error.

  • by itsdapead (734413) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @01:44PM (#41130315)

    Groklaw is not, and has never been, a neutral, unbiassed source of information.

    What PJ did in the SCO case, and for which she deserves a huge pile of karma, is to present her pro-Linux, pro-GPL argument in an extremely professional, reasoned way, with copious references and links to sources, and with clear, plain English explanations of the law and legal procedures involved. Essentially, she was presenting the case for the defence the way it should be presented if the court system lived up to its own ideals. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that as long as you don't confuse it with being neutral. Also, the way it turned out, she was robustly vindicated in the SCO case.

    She was also very conciliatory towards anybody who fancied slagging off the judge or court system, even when it appeared to be favouring SCO.

    Frankly, I don't see any of that in her coverage of Apple vs. Samsung: cherry picking soundbites from press interviews with jurors, openly deriding the process, and claiming fuzzy snaps of tablet-like devices from "Soylent Green" as prior art (maybe it was, the Jury largely junked the iPad design patents, but the PJ of old would have scrupulously backed up that argument with extracts from the patents and case law about what constituted prior art).

    I'm not sure what people are hoping for with an appeal/retrial. The parties are both big enough and ugly enough to loose the odd billion. Samsung's patent claims on 'integrating phones cameras and email' and 'listening to music while using an app' are just as poisonous as Apple's - possibly harder to work round if they'd been found to be infringed, and the idea that you can charge both chip makers and device makers that buy their chips for the same patent needed scotching. A korean-style 'you both infringed' verdict would just mean we had two sets of successfully-asserted patents stinking up the marketplace.

    Perfection, in my mind, would have been throwing out all the patents, Samsung and Apple, so we could get back to arguing over whether Samsung copied the iPhone or if they had an independent revelation during a SF movie session on a TV with rounded corners, regardless of whether any of it was patentable. I don't think that outcome is likely as long as the US recognises software patents and the USPTO doesn't get held to account for duff patents.

  • by Shining Celebi (853093) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @02:02PM (#41130449) Homepage

    In history? I don't know. I imagine the South Sea Company or the East India Company are among the contenders. Companies like Standard Oil would also crush Apple. General Electric, Microsoft, Intel and Cisco both hit, in modern times, higher market caps than Apple.

    Here's what I got from a quick Google.
    http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2012/08/22/a-history-of-ridiculously-big-companies.aspx [fool.com]

  • by mreine (1130279) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @02:08PM (#41130487)
    I agree. I have been a lawyer for 34 years and the Judge will most likely set the jury decision aside or invalidate it. There is obvious jury tampering and jury steering happening here. I am no fan of Google but this is utter nonsense when you include prior art.
  • by Plekto (1018050) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @02:36PM (#41130719)

    Well, that actually would make a lot of business sense.

    After all, if this drags on long enough, Samsung will be fighting over old technology that's no longer being sold, and then they can just drop the entire thing or settle. Without losing their market share or momentum. Apple's real goal of crushing their competition will have been thwarted, and Samsung just has to pay a fine.

    As for prior art, there has been hardly anything that hasn't involved stealing ideas from someone else in the last couple of hundred years. What we need is a more sane approach to it, like do in the fashion industry. Without everyone tacitly agreeing to allow some copying of ideas, the industry itself would simply implode and cease to work properly. Because they do, though, there are rarely legal challenges and everyone prospers (or at least has the ability to try to do so). Innovation requires copying and improving upon existing ideas. Without any ability to do so, people simply go to where they can. ie - China, currently.

    Apple is slowly killing itself off in the mad rush to protect everything down to the placement of a screw and the color of a connector. They're so focused upon the minor tiny crap that they are losing sight of the reality of the marketplace. People buy your product because of the total package that you offer. They could care less what some minor effect or component looks like or where it came from. The more money they waste and the more bad press they generate, the closer they come to the mess they created in the mid 90s. They go down while clutching onto their patents and pride while the majority of the consumers have simply moved on to less expensive and less restrictive products.

    Except this time, there is no Jobs to rescue them. And Wozniak isn't coming to save anything, either.

  • Re:Is everyone OK? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by danomac (1032160) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @03:00PM (#41130909)

    Well, if Samsung won, it probably would've been thrown out anyway as it was all over the news regarding the judge not allowing prior art evidence. This whole trial is a mess.

  • by plankrwf (929870) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @03:27PM (#41131069)

    I see things differently.
    Yes, everybody has opinions. You have them. PJ has them. I have them. If you agreed to 'everything' on Groklaw, you might actually share many of my opinions, although perhaps not all (not everything I care about is discussed on Groklaw).

    The 'consensus' on Groklaw seems to be that claiming (software) patents are a 'bad' thing. I happen to agree.
    I did read Groklaw on this case the last few days, and did find interesting facts in there. As to whether everything reported is 'true', that is hard to verify from here; I did for instance not hear any of the jurors myself, so cannot testify as to how any statements could or should be explained. But discussing HOW they could be interpreted seems legitimate enough.

    The results so far are, from an "anti software patents view", not reassuring. Can everything work out right in the end? Who knows. Not upholding the iPad 'trade dress' may be a light in the dark. This might in the end lead to the abolishment of software patents. But who knows, SCOTUS has neglected to rule on things which in my opinion are 'bad laws', and software patents in the States may live another 10-20 years.

    Am I disappointed (in the jury)? Yes.
    Could something have been wrong with the way the jury came to a conclusion? Yes.
    May it be a vector to research and discuss? Yes. I see NOTHING wrong in discussing this.

    I see nothing wrong with the discussions on Groklaw on this point. I realize many people here on Slashdot are Apple fans, and as such anything Apple may do will recieve positive feedback from a large crowd.
    Do I think those people are wrong? Yes, I do.
    Do I believe these people are astroturfing/are shills? No, the way I see it, many people convinced of 'the Apple way' are so from conviction. From the active way you participate in this discussion (many times with +3 or +5 insightful), I guess you (and others) may be very disappointed with the fact that Groklaw mostly took a position opposite to yours.
    The fact that you agreed previously with Groklaw may make this more emotional with you, I guess 'wrong' opinions by people or groups respected by you comes harder. I do, however, see a trend at Groklaw, which only could lead to it taking the stand that it took (and takes): software patents are bad, anyone using them to stifle innovation or competition should be frowned upon, and any legal arguments against this should be investigated.

    I write this post, trying to avoid letting this be seen as an 'ad hominem' attack on you.
    I do, however, believe that your attack here on Groklaw is misplaced. If you see any factual errors, please state them on Groklaw, as far as I know dissenting opinions are given enough room.

  • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @03:52PM (#41131201)

    Apparently the juror wanted to "send a message" abotu infringing patents (yeah, the guy who has a patent and is probably trying to set a precedent about getting a billion dollars for himself sometime in the future).

    Groklaw said:

    Final Jury Instruction No. 35, in part:

    The amount of those damages must be adequate to compensate the patent holder for the infringement. A damages award should put the patent holder in approximately the financial position it would have been in had the infringement not occurred, but in no event may the damages award be less than a reasonable royalty. You should keep in mind that the damages you award are meant to compensate the patent holder and not to punish an infringer.

    Mind you, if a patent like GSM radio communication sells for 1 cent per device, I can easily see why 'pinch to zoom' should sell for at least $10 per device :)

  • Re:Is everyone OK? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by petsounds (593538) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @04:08PM (#41131279)

    Juries can talk about whatever they want in private deliberations, and there's no way you can remove prior knowledge and bias from the jury unless you weed out those people during voir dire. Obviously it was in Apple's interest to have a guy who held patents on the jury, so they kept him in. The other jurors could have well told the foreman they wanted more explicit information or explanations from the judge, but they chose to heed the foreman's advice. Some others had engineering experience. This wasn't your average tech-stupid jury. Was it perhaps a bad decision to not get more explicit instructions, yes.

    Is that cause for mistrial? I doubt it. From what we've heard, there was no suggestion that they discussed or researched the case outside of the deliberation room. Could they have screwed up in other ways and cause a mistrial? Well, I guess we'll find out. But I was under the impression that juror comments post-trial cannot be used to change the outcome of the trial.

  • by msauve (701917) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @04:22PM (#41131381)

    Mind you, if a patent like GSM radio communication sells for 1 cent per device, I can easily see why 'pinch to zoom' should sell for at least $10 per device :)

    (reading that as a satirical comment) How do you figure that? Patents necessary to work with a standard protocol, such as GSM, normally fall under FRAND [wikipedia.org], so they must be licensed, and at reasonable cost.

    If one assumes Apple's patent on pinch and zoom is valid, they don't have to license it at all - at any cost. They can simply prevent others from using it. It's not needed for the functioning of a smartphone, let alone necessary to implement a standard. And, if Apple can show that they lost sales because that was a highly desirable feature, they have every right to ask for the equivalent of the profits they would have made as damages.

    But, I don't think the utility patents were valid. It seemed to me that there was prior art sufficient to make any minor refinements fall under the "obvious" dis-qualifier.

  • by Tough Love (215404) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @08:11PM (#41132737)

    Judge will definitely invalidate this one.

    Why? This judge (Lucy Koh) has acted consistently with overt bias from the word go. What do expect when the trial venue was basically down the street from Apple HQ. I understand the Cupertino police work for Apple as well.

  • Re:phew (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Internetuser1248 (1787630) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @08:16PM (#41132771)
    The fact that juries are even used in patent disputes... can everyone please think about that again? I know jury trials are enshrined in the US constitution, but they aren't fairer or better. They were, when the constitution was written. The amount of specialist knowledge required in many types of modern legal dispute means that jury trials are more about the charisma of lawyers than anything else. I think it is time to start phasing them out in favour of panels of experts in cases like this, and legal experts (judges) in other cases. There will always be some cases where a jury trial is warranted, but they are becoming a minority.
  • by Xest (935314) on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:57AM (#41134957)

    "(Here's some commentary from Reuters and CNet. Also remember, BOTH APPLE AND SAMSUNG VETTED THEM, and were able to remove whomever they wanted; I understand Apple got rid of a Google employee)."

    But bear in mind Samsung can only have so many removed, and this trial was a few miles from Apple's buildings. In that context it's next to impossible to remove every juror and find objective replacements who have no bias towards Apple when the area is so dependent on it for it's income and wealth.

    This is the underlying problem. Such an important trial shouldn't ever be allowed to be held so close to one party's offices under any circumstances. It doesn't happen in criminal trials - where there is a danger a member of a community would be prejudged by everyone in that community if the trial is held in that community, hence why they move the trial elsewhere, and it shouldn't happen in civil trials either when the stakes are so high.

    You know personally, the problem I have with all this is not so much Samsung being found guilty of infringement which has been the focus of every discussion surrounding this case, the problem I have is that all Samsung's claims were thrown out - what happened to them? where is the commentary on them? If Samsung was found guilty of infringing Apple's rectangulary phone patent which is merely opinion depending on how close you believe a phone can be to such a patent, then how could Apple not be found guilty of infringing Samsung's wireless patents in Samsung's counter-claim, a fact which is provable and not open to mere opinion like the design patents are.

    It's that that is the most damning evidence for me that this trial was fundamentally flawed, if Samsung infringed fine, but it's just nonsensical to say Samsung infringed, but somehow Apple didn't, as Apple's works are simply far more blatantly infringing than Samsungs are- Apple kit used tech Samsung has patents on, and contested in this trial, there's simply no question about that, yet those claims apparently vanished into the ether and Apple got everything they wanted. I fully except this may have just been a pro-patent jury who were always going to back patent enforcement and bad luck to Samsung, but then why did they not back Samsung's patents too? The fact they only backed Apple's does pretty much confirm this was not merely a pro-patent jury, but a pro-Apple jury.

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