Patent wars: Apple versus Samsung back in court today

Seven years after the billion-dollar patent trial between Apple and Samsung first began with a lawsuit by Apple, it still isn’t over yet.

The two companies are headed back to court today for its third trial on Tuesday morning in San Jose, with opening statements from lawyers on both sides of the seemingly never-ending dispute. This iteration of the legal fight is limited to determining damages only and is scheduled to end Friday.

Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr partner William Lee, who represents Apple showed the jury a series of Samsung phones released before, shortly after and years after the iPhone’s debut in 2007.

“Today, when we think of smartphones, we think of devices that look like the iPhone,” Lee said. “But that’s why it’s critically important for us to step back in time. Do you remember what cell phones looked like in 2006?”

Samsung’s pre-iPhone devices had keypads and smaller screens, while later models are screen-focused with app icons and no keypad. Lee argued that the iPhone’s design is a major part of what made it a top seller, and that Samsung deliberately copied the black screen, rounded corners, bezels and application layout to boost sales.

“It took Apple several years and over a $1 billion to develop the iPhone,” Lee told the jury. “Samsung recognized they had a crisis of design and in 4 months– 4 months–came up with the infringing phones.” Apple’s team is asking for more than $1 billion for Samsung’s infringement on three design patents, the full profit Samsung earned from the sale of infringing phones, and another $5 million for the South Korea-based company’s infringement of two utility patents.

While the design patents are the main event, the jury will also award damages for Samsung’s infringement of two utility patents related to manipulating documents on a touch screen. The first jury had awarded damages based on those patents and on trade dress for 13 Samsung models, necessitating a recalculation of damages for the utility patent infringement only.

Samsung appears to have the law on its side, as the Supreme Court rejected the century-old method by which the damages were calculated. District Court Judge Lucy Koh has warned Apple that the onus will be on it to make the case for keeping the damages awarded, also saying she hoped not to be hearing this same case until she retired.

The hearing is expected to conclude by the end of the week.

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