Opening statements underway in Apple patent trial

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SAN JOSE, CALIF. (AP) - Apple Inc. has started making its case to a jury that a bitter rival owes it billions of dollars for copying its iPhones and iPads.

Apple’s lead lawyer Harold McElhinny began his opening statements Tuesday to a jury of 10 people who will decide the closely watched patent trial between the Cupertino-based company and Samsung Electronics Inc.

Apple alleges in a lawsuit filed last year that Samsung’s smartphones and computer pads are illegal knockoffs of its products.

Samsung denies the claim and has countered that it’s Apple that’s doing the stealing. Samsung is demanding its own damages.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Opening statements were expected to begin Tuesday to decide the merits of Apple Inc.’s claims that Samsung Electronics Co.’s smartphones and computer tablets are illegal knockoffs of the iPhone and iPad.

After a jury was selected Monday, lawyers for both sides were set to deliver their opening statements Tuesday morning in a San Jose federal courtroom, followed by Apple calling its first witness, a company designer. The witness lists of both sides are long on experts, engineers and designers and short on familiar names. Apple CEO Tim Cook, for example, is not scheduled to testify.

Apple filed a lawsuit against Samsung last year alleging smartphones and computer tablets made by the world’s largest technology company are illegal knockoffs of Apple’s popular iPhone and iPad products.

Cupertino-based Apple is demanding $2.5 billion in damages, an award that would dwarf the largest patent-related verdict to date.

Samsung countered that Apple is doing the stealing and that some of the technology at issue _ such as the rounded rectangular designs of smartphones and tablets _ has been industry standards for years.

A jury of seven men and three women was selected to hear the case, which is just the latest skirmish between the two companies over product designs. A similar trial began last week, and the two companies have been fighting in courts in the United Kingdom and Germany.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose last month ordered Samsung to pull its Galaxy 10.1 computer tablet from the U.S. market pending the outcome of the upcoming trial, though she barred Apple attorneys from telling the jurors about the ban.

“That’s a pretty strong statement from the judge and shows you what she thinks about some of Apple’s claims,” said Brian Love, a Santa Clara University law professor and patent expert. Even though the case will be decided by 10 jurors, the judge has the authority to overrule their decision if she thinks they got it wrong, he said.

“In some sense, the big part of the case is not Apple’s demands for damages but whether Samsung gets to sell its products,” said Mark A. Lemley, a Stanford Law School professor and director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science, and Technology.

A verdict in Apple’s favor could send a message to consumers that Android-based products such as Samsung’s are in legal jeopardy, Lemley said. A verdict in Samsung’s favor, especially if it prevails on its demands that Apple pay its asking price to certain transmission technology it controls, could lead to higher-priced Apple products.

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