A lawyer for Apple told a jury recently that bitter rival Samsung faced two choices to compete in the booming mobile phone market after Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007: Innovate or copy.
Samsung has chosen to copy, making its smartphone and computer tablets illegal knockoffs of popular Apple products, attorney Harold McElhinny claimed.
Samsung "was copied throughout the design and user experience" of Apple's iPhone and iPad, McElhinny told a jury during his opening statement in the patent trial relating to two of the world's largest maker of cellphones.
In his opening statement, attorney Charles Verhoeven said Samsung countered that the South Korean company employs thousands of designers and spends billions of dollars in research and development to create new products.
"Samsung is not a few imitators, some Johnny-come-lately making knockoffs," he said.
Verhoeven asserted that Apple is like many other companies that use similar technology and design to satisfy the needs of consumers for phones and other devices that play music and movies and take photos.
For example, he said several other companies and inventors file patent applications for the rounded, rectangular shape associated with Apple products.
"Everyone is out there for that basic form factor," Verhoeven said. "There is nothing wrong with looking at what your competitors do and inspired by them."
A verdict in Apple's favor could lead to expulsion of products of Samsung Galaxy from the U.S. market, said Mark A. Lemley, a professor and director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science, and Technology.
A verdict in Samsung’s favor, especially if it prevails on its demands that Apple pay its asking price for certain transmission technology, could develop into higher-priced Apple products.
Cupertino-based Apple Inc. filed the case against Samsung Electronics Co. last year and is demanding $2.5 billion in damages, an award that dwarf the largest patent-related decisions to date.
The case marks the latest skirmish between the two companies to design products. A similar trial began last week, and the two companies are fighting with other courts in the United Kingdom and Germany.
In the case of patent, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh last month ordered Samsung to take its Galaxy 10.1 tablet computer from the U.S. market pending the outcome of the patent trial. However, he barred lawyers from Apple telling jurors about the ban.
Apple lawyers argue there is almost no difference between Samsung products and the iPhone, and that the internal documents show South Korean company has copied Apple's interface design and image.
Samsung counter-claim that Apple copied the iPhone from Sony. In addition, Samsung alleges Apple uses some of its own invention with no compensation, such as a computer chip in the heart of the iPhone.
The Samsung lawyer also stressed the company has been developing mobile phones since 1991, long before Apple jumped into the market in 2007.