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Jurors in Apple-Samsung case delved into emails, other evidence

A memo from Google to Samsung was crucial in the jury's decision to award more than $1 billion to Apple in the patent case. A tech-savvy foreman led the panel.

August 27, 2012|Bloomberg News

Jurors who awarded Apple Inc. more than $1 billion in its intellectual-property battle with Samsung Electronics Co. pressed through deliberations without any formal coffee breaks, worked through lunches, and continued their discussions for an hour longer than scheduled on two of the three days, jury foreman Velvin Hogan said.

The panel of seven men and two women went through a "meticulous" process in determining that Samsung infringed Apple's products, said Hogan, 67.

When it came time to consider whether a violation was "willful," or intentional, "we knew where we had to go in the evidence," he said, referring to emails introduced at the trial.

One pivotal document was an internal 2010 Samsung email describing how Google Inc. asked the South Korean manufacturer to change the design of its products to look less like Apple's.

"Certain actors at the highest level at Samsung Electronics Co. gave orders to the sub-entities to actually copy," Hogan said. "So the whole thing hinges on whether you think Samsung was actually copying.

"The thing that did it for us was when we saw the memo from Google telling Samsung to back away from the Apple design."

The verdict came Friday in the complex patent case after just 22 hours of jury deliberations. It found that Samsung infringed six patents for mobile devices.

The jury's finding that the infringement was intentional could allow U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose to triple the damages next month when she considers Apple's request to bar sales of some Samsung products.

Hogan has had personal experience with patents. He spent seven years working with lawyers to obtain his own patent covering video compression software, a hobby of his. He worked for 35 years in the computer industry for companies including Memorex Corp. and Digital Equipment Corp.

Based in part on his technology background, jurors elected him foreman, he said. The only dissenting vote was his own.

"I could imagine him being very useful to the other jurors as long as he's not trying to dominate the jury room," said Mark McKenna, a University of Notre Dame Law School professor, in an interview before the verdict. "It could be the case that because this guy has a lot of expertise that a lot of jurors defer a lot of specific questions to him."

The jury's first priority was to determine which patents were valid, Hogan said.

"When I got in this case and I started looking at these patents, I considered: If this was my patent and I was accused, could I defend it?'" Hogan said. On Wednesday night, after closing arguments, "a light bulb went on in my head," he said. "I thought, I need to do this for all of them."

The next day, the first full day of deliberations, Hogan said he explained his thinking to his fellow jurors.

"We discussed each and every patent, each and every claim, each and every limit" described in the patents, Hogan said. "We took this extremely seriously, we looked at it meticulously, but the way we looked at it, a lot of things grouped together."

The group simplified the process by drawing a matrix on a notepad to determine whether the Samsung smartphones and tablet computers in the case violated Apple's patents, he said. This approach also helped to identify which set of legal rules to apply for the three different types of claims at issue — utility patents, design patents and "trade dress," which refers to how a product looks.

"While on the outside people thought we got through this quickly, our method was we threw some things out that didn't need to be considered," Hogan said.

Hogan wasn't the only juror with a technology background. Others on the panel included a mechanical engineer, an aspiring software engineer and one who worked for National Semiconductor Corp.

Although the interests and professional backgrounds of those jurors reflected the Silicon Valley pool from which the panel was drawn, another juror works at a cycling shop and one panelist who didn't go to college works in construction, according to court transcripts. Seven of the nine panelists said they had never served on a jury before.

Aarti Mathur, who told the court she had worked at information technology start-ups as a benefits administrator, spoke briefly about serving on the jury, her first.

"It was a very exciting experience and a unique and novel case," she said. "There was a lot to go through, and we were able to sort it out."

Mathur declined to comment further.

One prospective juror who Apple successfully fought to remove from the case was a Google engineer who told the court he worked in some capacity with patents covering technologies for the search engine company's YouTube unit, AdWords program and Android operating system.

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