SAN JOSE, Calif.--"This will be a very interesting case," U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh told prospective jurors today, the first day of a trial between Apple and Samsung in a federal court here.
It's safe to say that's an understatement. While the trial, which is expected to run about a month, focuses mainly on patent infringement, it's at the center of a battle between two tech giants who hope to gain more of a foothold in the mobile device market and the electronics world at large.
The two sides are scheduled to begin their opening statements today following jury selection, though before that even began, there was plenty of posturing for last-minute additions and subtractions for evidence that could be used.
Samsung vied to have what it viewed as two key pieces of its evidence allowed in court. The first was testimony from an Apple designer discussing a design from Sony that would lend itself to a good handset. Samsung's lawyers argued that it was integral to its case since it showed that Apple got design cues from other companies -- something Apple was using against it in the case.
The day prior, Koh decided to have that testimony -- as well as an e-mail correspondence -- kept out of opening arguments. Today Koh told both sides to write up quick arguments for their side to decide whether that could be included.
The other piece of evidence was a set of slides from an internal Samsung product road map depicting rectangular, touch-screen smart phones. Samsung argued that these designs were in the company's plans in 2006, which was before Apple's iPhone first debuted. "Apple is alleging that Samsung copied its design. (The designs) pre-date the announcement of the iPhone," Samsung's lawyers argued.
Finding a jury
Of course finding a jury for this trial was expected to be a complicated process. That proved to be the case this morning, with numerous prospective jurors either working for one of the two companies, working with a business that had a relationship with one of the two companies, or having friends and family who did. San Jose is just a few miles away from Apple and Google's headquarters, as well as numerous other technology companies.
Koh asked jurors some basic questions to gauge whether they were impartial. That included whether they had strong feelings about the case based on what they have already heard through the media, if they knew any employees at either company, if they had read any books about Apple or Samsung, and whether they had Apple or Samsung stock.
During that process it was revealed there was a quality assurance engineer on Apple's iCloud team, as well as a Google interface designer. There was also a man whose son worked in Apple's legal department, and others with children or friends who worked for the company. A handful of prospective jurors also noted that they had read Walter Isaacson's biography of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, though said that it would not affect their partiality for the trial.
Not to left out was what kind of devices prospective jurors owned, from smartphones to tablets. One individual, who works for Google garnered laughter from the courtroom after listing off all the devices he owned. That included two Samsung smartphones, two iPads, a Samsung Galaxy tablet, and a Nook Color.
"You're good for the economy," Koh joked.
A jury of 10 is expected to be picked today, with opening statements from both sides to follow. Judge Koh said she expects the evidence portion of the trial to conclude as early as August 17, though said August 20 or 21 was more likely. Stay tuned for more.