‘Proud’ Samsung designer denies copying Apple

SAN JOSE — As testimony in the Apple-Samsung smartphone trial neared its close, Judge Lucy Koh on Wednesday called on the sparring companies’ CEOs to make one last attempt at settling the case before it goes to a jury.

Before the jury came into the courtroom Wednesday morning, Koh criticized Apple and Samsung for continuing to argue about witness presentations and jury instructions:

“Reading these jury instructions is going to put everyone in a coma.”

Next week, Apple and Samsung are expected to give four-hour closing arguments each — followed by one to two hours of more than a hundred pages of jury instructions.

Koh asked both parties for their company CEOs to have one last talk and hoped that Apple and Samsung would settle the case before jury deliberations could begin.

Samsung started today’s presentation with video testimony from Intel employees concerning wireless telecommunications networks. One reporter present in the courtroom observed:

“I’ve been covering tech for 15 years. I have no idea what the Intel guy is saying. No way [the] Apple jury does.”

Samsung is countersuing Apple based on Samsung patents on 3G network functionality, including the ability to prevent dropped calls by reducing power to channels on a cell phone.

Because Samsung expert Tim Williams could not testify yesterday before Koh could evaluate Intel’s objection to William’s analysis of confidential Intel source code, Samsung needed to shuffle its witness list around.

In his testimony, Williams explained the steps Apple’s devices used to infringe the technology. A veteran Motorola engineer, Williams came back from retirement to be involved in several startups. He told the court that he was here today because he wanted a strong US economy for his children and a strong patent system.

Apple responded that the patent violation was based on an instruction from the Intel chips in Apple devices, and neither Apple nor Intel engineers knew about the Samsung patents. Apple reiterated that the inventors on the Samsung patents would not be testifying at the trial.

To respond to Apple’s design patent infringement case, Samsung called one of its in-house industrial designers, Jin Soo Kim. Kim pointed out that 300 million people use phones he has designed, telling the court:

“I’m proud of what I do.”

Samsung argued that its tablet design project started in October 2009, three months before Apple announced the iPad. Kim showed a Galaxy Tab tablet design at the 2011 Mobile World Congress, but after seeing the competition, Kim decided to make the lightest and thinnest tablet available. The decision was made independent of and before the iPad 2 announcement.

Kim denied that Samsung copied any designs from Apple and argued that Samsung had perfectly valid reasons for design considerations like using smooth glass for the touchscreen.

In cross examination, Apple attorney Harold McElhinny brought up communications Google had with Samsung warning them that Samsung’s designs were copying too much from Apple.

“I haven’t received feedback on it directly,” Kim responded, clarifying that he only saw the internal communications while preparing for his testimony. According to Samsung, Kim and his design team already decided to switch to making the lightest and thinnest tablet design possible after the Mobile World Congress and before Google’s warning.

Kim denied that any of his supervisors mentioned Google’s concerns to him. Furthermore, the tablets mentioned in the Samsung internal documents were either not sold in the United States or not included in the current case.

Running low on time, Samsung brought in two experts to explain why Apple should not have been granted patents on its touchscreen technology implemented in Apple smartphones and tablets.

Brown University computer science professor Andries van Dam told the court that the Tablecloth application for the Diamond Touch Table and the LaunchTile operating system for the HP iPAQ, both shown the previous day, had the same “snap-back” functionality before Apple applied for a patent on it.

Consultant Stephen Gray used the Fractal Zoom application for the Touch Table and other references to demonstrate their similarity to Apple’s other patents on scrolling and gesturing technology involved in this case.

Samsung lawyer Ed DeFranco cut off Gray and skipped some explanation of slides to save Samsung trial time. For both experts, Apple pointed out the limitations in the prior references, implying to the jury that Apple’s user interface software was more sophisticated than anything the US patent office could have considered in examining Apple’s patent applications.

By the end of Wednesday, Apple had used about 18 hours, and Samsung had used more than 22 hours in evidence presentation. Both sides had agreed to limit their trial time to 25 hours each.

Despite additional disputes over witnesses, Judge Koh told the parties the end was coming:

“I think resting has to happen tomorrow.”

Koh instructed attorneys from both sides to finalize jury instructions next Monday so closing arguments could happen next Tuesday. The trial resumes Thursday morning.

SFBay correspondent Simon Linder is a patent agent covering the Apple-Samsung trial from inside the courtroom. For regular updates from the courtroom, follow @SimonHLinder on Twitter.