132-page design document details how Galaxy Phones would be better if they imitated small details of the iPhone

In U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (San Jose/San Francisco) Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) and Apple, Inc. (AAPL) are presenting their arguments, trying to sway jurors that the other's smartphones and tablets infringed on its intellectual property.

I. Samsung Rips Into Apple's Design Claims

The case began with Samsung largely on the hot seat, with Apple's arguments focusing on its notion that it has "patented" the minimalist smartphone and tablet.  Apple's design patents -- U.S. Design Patent No. D618,677D593,087, and D504,889 -- are simply pictures, with a brief title.  But according to Apple they represent exclusive rights to produce rectangular smartphones and tablets.

Apple’s lawyers grilled Samsung designer Justin Denison over his company’s decision to destroy potential evidence with an automated email deletion system.  They also showed him statements that suggested that Samsung was facing a "crisis in design" and that imitating the iPhone was a solution.  Mr. Denison predictably called those statements hyperbole, designed to motivate Samsung coders, not a focus on "ripping off" the iPhone.

Then it was Apple's turn, with its industrial designer Peter Bressler taking the stand to emphasize the importance of the face shape to the iPhone and iPad patent.  The goal here was to establish a broad definition of what shapes Apple "owned", to try to connect those shapes to the financial success of Apple and its competitors, and finally to snare Samsung in the design net, claiming that Samsung used a forbidden shape -- such as a rectangle with rounded edges.

A court reporter for The Verge quotes Mr. Denison as commenting on the Samsung Galaxy S 4G versus the iPhone 4, "It's my opinion that this phone, the design of this phone would be considered substantially the same."

But as with last week's opening arguments, Samsung scored key victories during its cross-examination, as counsel Charles Verhoeven presented four examples of prior art that predated the iPhone, but bore similar designs.  Predictably, Apple's designer considered this an "improper analysis".

Prior art -- iPhone
The iPhone (right) is shown beside previously patented designs (left, center), which Samsung say establish prior art. [Image Source: The Verge]

Mr. Verhoeven also attacked the importance of a flush glass face and bezel to Apple's overall design.  He also pointed out that the Samsung F700 was held up by Mr. Bressler as a sufficiently different design not to infringe, yet the key design elements were arguably no more different than the iPhone than those of the Galaxy S, implying that the Galaxy S should by Apple's designer's own logic not infringe.

From there Samsung caught Apple's designer in more contradictions.  In a showy moment, its lawyer emphasized the non-reflective matte surface of the tab, seizing on statements by the Apple designer about the reflective back surface.  He approached the designer witness and asked him whether he could see his reflection on the Tab's matte surface.

II. Apple Strikes Back

But on Tuesday Apple struck back convincing the presiding judge, Judge Lucy Koh, to allow a 132-page report from Samsung that could support Apple's claim that Samsung "slavishly copied" its designs.

The market research document delves into virtual every user interface feature and core app on the iPhone, comparing them to a prototype Samsung GUI.  In nearly every case Samsung's design review team finds the iPhone superior via subtle design flourishes.

Many of those flourishes appear to have been included in the final version of the graphical user interface and core apps of the Samsung Galaxy S 4G.

In other words, while Apple has struggled in its claims that Apple copied its physical phone shape/design, Samsung has struggled in terms of the software GUI design, which is covered by other Apple patents and icon trademarks.

Ultimately this could lead the jury to find Samsung guilty of certain trademark infringements, but not guilty of infringement of the design patents, although jury verdicts, of course, have a certain stochastic (unpredictable) character.

Comedian Conan O'Brian offers a snarky analysis of the design dispute.

Things should get particularly interesting as the trial moves to the technology infringement phase, where Samsung will also accuse Apple of intellectual property "theft".

Sources: The Verge, All Things D

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