The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

National News

April 1, 2014

Choosing jury in Apple-Samsung case may be hard

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Jury selection promised to be a challenge for the world's leading smartphone makers as they continued their patent fight in federal court on Tuesday.

The trial in Silicon Valley marks the latest round in a long-running series of lawsuits between Apple Inc. and Samsung, with the companies accusing each other of stealing ideas and features.

One reason choosing a jury could be difficult is because the federal courthouse in San Jose is just a 15-minute drive from the Cupertino headquarters of Apple.

Most prospective jurors said they were at least somewhat familiar with the dispute, including many who work for companies affiliated with either Samsung or Apple. Some locals had strong opinions.

"Neither company has been a particular favorite of mine. Both have been bullies with their patent libraries," said prospective juror Armen Hamstra, a LinkedIn software engineer and patent holder who was not immediately excused from the jury pool despite requests from attorneys.

If Apple prevails in the current case, the cost to Samsung could reach $2 billion. Apple's costs, if it loses the litigation, were expected to be about $6 million.

Whatever the outcome, it could be the consumer who ends up paying the ultimate price. Experts say the litigation could lead to more expensive smartphones and devices and slow the overall pace of mobile innovation.

"The most direct effect of this patent fight on consumers would be if the judge blocked one of these popular phones from the market," said Rutgers Law School professor Michael A. Carrier.

Carrier said patent litigation costs businesses time and money.

"What's even more worrisome for the effect on innovation is the impact on small innovators," said Carrier. "Apple and Samsung can afford this litigation. The next upstart cannot."

In the case in U.S. District Court, Apple is accusing Samsung of infringing on five patents on newer devices, including Galaxy smartphones and tablets. In a counterclaim, Samsung says Apple stole two of its ideas to use on iPhones and iPads.

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