BY DAN LEVINE
SAN JOSE – An Apple Inc attorney told jurors the company deserves about $2 billion from Samsung for copying the iPhone, but a Samsung lawyer said Apple was merely seeking to make up for losing its lead in the smartphone market.
The two companies returned to court on Tuesday for opening statements in their long-running patent battle. Jurors awarded the iPhone maker about $930 million after a 2012 trial in San Jose, California, but Apple failed to persuade U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh to issue a permanent injunction against the sale of Samsung phones.
A sales ban would be a far more serious threat to Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, which earned $7.7 billion in the quarter that ended in December. Samsung’s mobile division, which includes smartphones, generated operating profit of 5.47 trillion won ($5.1 billion).
The current trial involves a fresh batch of Apple patents, which cover iPhone features like slide to unlock and search technology. Apple is again seeking to ban sales of several Samsung phones, including the Galaxy S III.
Apple attorney Harold McElhinny told the eight-member jury on Tuesday that Samsung had sold over 37 million phones and tablets that infringe its patents, and deserved an average royalty of $33 per phone.
“They will try to tell you that our inventions were and are trivial,” McElhinny said. “And that they are not valuable.”
McElhinny said Samsung could not compete with Apple and had reached a crisis by 2010. “It copied many many features,” he said.
However, Samsung attorney John Quinn said Samsung’s phones use Google Inc’s Android operating system. The features Apple is claiming to own were actually developed by Google, which did not copy Apple, he noted.
“We will prove to you that, yes, Apple is a great company but they don’t own everything,” Quinn said. “They don’t own the only way to search on phones.”
In attempting to win a sales ban against Samsung, Quinn said Apple is trying to recover its leading position in the smartphone market.
“What this case is really about is Apple trying to limit consumer choice and to gain an unfair advantage over its one main competitor, Google’s Android,” Quinn said.
Samsung also claims Apple violated two of its patents, and is seeking to ban the iPhone 5.
In rejecting Apple’s previous bid for a sales ban, Koh wrote that a consumer survey Apple submitted in the 2012 trial likely inflated the value that customers place on the smartphone features in dispute, meaning Apple does not merit an injunction. Apple is appealing that decision.
Apple has hired the same marketing expert to conduct a new consumer survey for the current trial. But this latest effort contains additional analysis about how Apple’s patented features drive consumer demand, according to court filings.
While the prior survey only concluded that there was general demand for the patented features, the new study attempts to quantify the proportion of customers Samsung would have lost if its smartphones did not contain those features, court filings show.
Samsung tried to stop Apple from presenting that evidence to the jury, arguing that the methodology was unsound. However, Koh agreed in a February ruling to allow Apple to use the study.
McElhinny told jurors that Samsung disabled its infringing search technology after Apple sued, but then restored it due to consumer demand. That demonstrates the value of Apple’s features, he said.
The trial is expected to last until early May. (Reuters)