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Jury gave fair verdict in Apple vs. Samsung case, foreman says

Posted: 30 Aug 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Apple? Samsung? patent suit? trade dress?

In this interview with EE Times, foreman Velvin R. Hogan discussed in detail how he and his fellow jury members carefully deliberated both patent claims of Apple and Samsung resulting in what he believes is a fair decision. Hogan, a veteran electrical engineer, said he drew from his technical experience to view the case in an unbiased light.

In days of testimony, lawyers for both sides presented world-class experts who showed multiple pieces of what they claimed were prior art invalidating each other's patents. "When I got home I was watching a movie on TV, but not really watching it because my mind was going 90 miles an hour thinking about this patent, claim by claim," he recalled.

"My light bulb moment came that Wednesday night when I asked myself if I could defend [the Apple '381 software patent], and I realized I could, so in the morning I explained this to my fellow jurors," the 67-year-old Hogan said.

After that, the group fairly quickly found all the Apple and Samsung patents in the case were valid. As instructed the jury then considered Samsung devices one by one, deciding that most of them willfully infringed Apple's patents and trade dress, or look and feel, levying $1.05 billion in damages on Samsung.

Hogan's "light-bulb moment" was a flashback to his experience defending his patent on an alternative to the MPEG 4 Part 10 video codec.

The patent "took seven years to be granted-the last three-and-a-half years debating with the patent examiner my claims, and ultimately I won. I learned in that exercise what's needed to defend a patent against prior art," he said.

Hogan spent much of his 40-year career building test equipment and servo components for the emerging hard disk drive industry. He refused to join Samsung's lawyers and some observers who scoffed at Apple's claims on the industrial design of iPhones and the look and feel of their user interfaces.

"If you accept the premise of intellectual property-regardless of what it is-it needs to be protected," he said.

A message to the industry

"I confess a few years ago when Congress let the patent office authorize trade dress and design patents I was quite frankly not sure it was the right thing to do, but after being in this trial my position changed-IP needs to be protected if it is legitimate," he said.

The verdict "was a message to the industry at large that if you are going to compete in this country there's a set of rules, and if you decide to take a calculated risk and infringe you need to be willing to pay a price for it," he said.

Lawyers debated in court whether Samsung was copying Apple or merely benchmarking the competition. Again, Hogan recalled his own experience.

"I worked in R&D at Memorex when IBM first came out with the Winchester hard drive," he recalled. "One weekend a colleague and I were tasked with reverse engineering it.

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