The nine men and women who comprise the jury in Apple’s patent lawsuit against Samsung are almost ready to get to work on crafting a verdict. The jurors will be sequestered, but Judge Koh has decided to allow them to access the Internet during deliberations. Several jurors apparently carry the same devices that are the subject of the trial – smartphones and tablets made by Samsung and Apple.
The jury is prohibited from reading news about the trial on their smart devices, but in a high profile case like this one it will be hard for even the most conscientious juror to avoid seeing an occasional headline if he or she surfs the Internet. And given the technical nature of the case, there is a high likelihood that jurors will research terms and technologies online unless explicitly prohibited from doing so.
Samsung initially resisted the idea of letting the jurors access the Internet, arguing that their smartphones and tablets might install over-the-air updates to the same software the jurors will be discussing. Apple suggested giving jurors tips on how to avoid accidentally updating their software during the trial. The jurors will be asked to decide whether Samsung copied software features from the iPhone’s user interface, such as the “pinch-to-zoom” feature that can be used to make images on the screen appear larger or smaller.
The jury is also being asked to decide whether Samsung copied Apple’s hardware designs, or whether the design of smartphones and tablets is largely dictated by the functionality of the devices, as Samsung argues. Finally, the nine men and women must try to agree on whether Apple violated Samsung’s patents on technology that enables mobile devices to connect to cellular networks.
Apple is suing Samsung for $2.5 billion as compensation for sales it says it could have made if Samsung’s products had not been on the market. Samsung wants Apple to pay it $399 million for allegedly infringing its patents. The energy both companies are devoting to the case underlines the success and future potential of the mobile device market, a market which has enriched both companies enough that the verdict in this case is unlikely to have a large financial impact on either of them.
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