Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Monday morning in a high stakes patent battle between Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, the culmination of over a year of pretrial jousting with billions of dollars in the balance, writes Reuters.
The stakes are high, with Samsung facing potential U.S. sales bans of its Galaxy smartphones and tablet computers, and Apple in a pivotal test of its worldwide patent litigation strategy.
At the same time, both sides are seeking financial damages from the other.
The fight began last year when Apple sued Samsung in a San Jose, California federal court, accusing Samsung of copying the iPhone and iPad. The South Korean company countersued.
According to The Huff Post, at this trial, Apple is seeking at least $2.53 billion in damages, though U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh could triple that figure if she finds Samsung willfully infringed Apple’s patents.
Apple will seek to use Samsung documents to show its rival knowingly violated the iPhone maker’s intellectual property rights, while Samsung will try to argue that Apple is trying to stifle competition to maintain “exorbitant” profit, according to court filings.
A loss for Samsung could lead to permanent sales bans against products including the flagship Galaxy S III phone.
Apple already scored some points in June. Judge Lucy H. Koh, who will also preside over the jury trial that begins this week, issued a preliminary injunction against Samsung, ordering it to stop selling its Galaxy Nexus smartphone in the United States, reports The New York Times.
Judge Koh found that the South Korean company had infringed on an Apple patent for a “universal interface,” which broadly describes crucial ingredients found in Siri, Apple’s question-answering application (though the patent itself was filed by Apple before it acquired Siri in 2010).
In a statement issued on Friday, Samsung said Apple has been “free-riding” on its technology “while using excessive legal claims against our products in their attempt to limit consumer choice and discourage innovation.”
Samsung cites internal Apple documents and deposition testimony to prove that Apple borrowed its ideas from others, especially Sony. Apple, according to Samsung, was clearly innovative in refining the ideas of others, but it was not the original inventor.
However, according to The Wall Street Journal, there will be another elephant in the room: Google Inc.
Apple, the company which transformed the market with the 2007 debut of the iPhone, has launched a global attack on Samsung and other handset makers that use Google’s Android software.
“It really feels like Apple versus Google instead of Apple and the company whose name is on the suit,” said Brian Love, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law who specializes in patents.
The dispute began more than two years ago, when Apple sued Android partner HTC Corp. of Taiwan in March 2010 and Samsung in April 2011. Moreover, in a 2011 authorized biography, Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs called Android “a stolen product.”
However, Apple didn’t sue Google, opting instead to attack the companies that manufacture Android phones. It declines to say why.
Google will be watching the action closely. Its employees aren’t expected to testify, but legal representatives from Google are likely to attend the trial.
A loss for Apple could also be significant, not only if it were ordered to pay financial damages but also because of the competitive threats.
That is because the Galaxy S III is a better phone than the latest iPhone 4S, Michael Yoshikami, chief executive of Destination Wealth Management, said.
“Apple is all about slowing Samsung down,” said Yoshikami, whose fund holds Apple shares. “Apple will try to buy time until iPhone 5 launches,” which is expected in October.
A 10-member jury will hear evidence over at least four weeks, and it must reach a unanimous decision for Apple or Samsung to prevail on any of their claims.