The jury of nine people will consider the case after hearing three weeks of testimony from technology experts, patent professionals and company executives.
Apple’s damage demands, if awarded, would represent the largest patent verdict in the U.S.
From the beginning, legal experts and Wall Street analysts have viewed Samsung as the underdog. To begin with, Apples headquarters is a mere 10 miles from the courthouse, and jurors were picked from the heart of Silicon Valley where the company’s late founder Steve Jobs is a revered technological pioneer.
While the legal and technological issues may be complex, patent expert Alexander I. Poltorak says the case will likely boil down to whether jurors believe Samsung’s products at issue look and feel almost identical to Apple’s iPhone and iPad.
“Most jurors will probably say they look alike,” said Poltorak, who is chief executive of General Patent Corp.
In June, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh called Samsung’s Galaxy 10.1 tablet computer “virtually indistinguishable” from Apple’s iPad and banned its sale in the United States until the resolution of the case.
To overcome that hurdle, Samsung’s battalion of lawyers has been arguing that many of Apple’s claims of innovation are either obvious ideas or were actually stolen ideas from Sony Corp. and others. Experts called that line of argument a high-risk strategy because of Apple’s reputation as an innovator.
“Saying Apple is a copyist is going to be a hard sell,” said Ellen Brickman, a New York-based jury and trial consultant. “Apple changed the world when it came to computers. Apple changed the world when it came to phones.”
Poltorak said a verdict in Apple’s favor would cost Samsung a lot of money but wouldn’t dramatically disrupt the smartphone markets. He predicted that Samsung engineers would quickly redesign the company’s smartphone and computer tablets to compete if Apple wins the lawsuit.
Apple lawyers argue there is almost no difference between Samsung’s products and those of Apple, and presented Samsung’s internal documents they say show it copied Apple’s designs. Samsung lawyers countered that several other companies and inventors had previously developed much of the Apple technology at issue.
The U.S. trial is just the latest skirmish between the two over product designs. The two companies have been fighting in courts in Australia, the United Kingdom and Germany.
The case is one of some 50 lawsuits among myriad telecommunications companies jockeying for position in the burgeoning $219 billion market for smartphones and computer tablets.