Quick Verdict in Apple Trial Doesn’t Mean Jury Shirked Its Duty, Expert Says
By James Niccolai
With the verdict in the Apple-Samsung trial delivered after less than three days it’s tempting to think the jury just wanted to get it over with by the weekend, but that’s not necessarily the case, one legal expert said Friday.
“It’s surprising they came back so quickly, given that it was a complicated case and very complicated verdict form, but that said, it looks like they were thoughtful about it and they did their job,” said Roy Futterman, director at DOAR Litigation Consulting and a clinical psychologist who works on trial strategies and the mindset of jurors.
“One sign of that is that the verdicts were consistent, they held together — they voted one way on infringement and another way on invalidity; it all tells the same big story,” he said.
“The other way you can see they were thoughtful is that they did pick and choose among devices. They didn’t just go across the board and check everything — they said they infringed on this bit not on this bit, so they made some clear choices.
“So it was surprising to me that they came back that quickly, but it looks like they did a lot of work in a short amount of time,”
The jury at the U.S. District Court in San Jose, California, delivered a verdict almost entirely in Apple’s favor on Friday afternoon and awarded it damages of slightly more than $1 billion.
The jury determined Samsung had violated several of Apple’s technology and design patents and also concluded that, despite Samsung’s claims to the contrary, Apple did not violate any Samsung patents.
In a statement, Samsung said the verdict should not be viewed as a win for Apple but “as a loss for the American consumer.” It’s unfortunate that patent law can give one company “a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners,” it said, and vowed that the case was not over, suggesting it will appeal.
The verdict form was a complex one, in part because it had to address several patents and numerous products, and because charges were brought against various subsidiaries of the two companies. The verdict form contained as many as 700 discrete points the jury had to consider.
Samsung’s lawyers had their work cut out for them before the case even started, because it’s so widely accepted that Apple’s products changed the smartphone and tablet markets, Futterman said.
“I think Apple’s legal team did a very good job of conveying their message, but I also think people in America just intuitively know that Apple did change things, they changed it with the iPhone and they changed it with the iPad,” he said.
That belief among jurors may also help to explain why they reached a verdict so quickly.
“Samsung had a huge hurdle, which is that even lay people know [Apple’s] phones changed everything, and for them to be able to fight that was already very difficult,” he said.
The jury also found that Samsung infringed Apple’s patents wilfully, or knowingly. In those circumstances a judge can often award treble damages.
“Wilful infringement often makes things go through the roof; Samsung is in big trouble, no question,” said Futterman.
James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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