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Apple-Samsung Verdict Not Meant As A Message, Jury Foreman Says

By Howard Mintz, San Jose Mercury News

The federal jury’s mixed verdict in the latest patent showdown between Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. was not intended to send a broader message in the smartphone wars, the jury foreman said Monday.

In the end, although the jury ordered Samsung to pay about $120 million for copying some of Apple’s iPhone technology, the panel simply did not agree with Apple’s view that it was entitled to more than $2 billion for patent violations, jurors said Monday after putting finishing touches on their verdict.

“We didn’t feel either one was fair and just compensation,” Thomas Dunham, the foreman of the eight-member jury, said of the vastly different damages figures given to them by Apple and Samsung. Apple had sought $2.2 billion in damages and Samsung had argued that any award should not exceed $38 million.

“It wasn’t a decision based on trying to send a message to one company or another,” added Dunham, a retired IBM supervisor from San Martin, California, who had the only tech and patent expertise on the jury. “It was based on the evidence that was presented to us.”

After a monthlong trial, the jury on Friday found that Samsung violated two of four patents in iPhone technology the panel was asked to consider, but rejected some of Apple’s claims against its South Korean tech rival and awarded far less in damages than Apple had sought.

In addition, the jury found that Apple violated one of Samsung’s patents, for camera folder technology, and ordered it to pay $158,000 in damages.

At the beginning of jury deliberations, the jury asked for more evidence on what Apple CEO Steve Jobs may have said about suing his rivals, Samsung and Google, which played a central role in the trial because of its Android operating system. Samsung argued that Google was the real target of Apple’s patent claims because it considered Android, which runs Samsung smartphones and tablets, copied technology.

Jurors said Monday that they wanted more evidence on the topic, particularly after Apple revealed that Google had agreed to pay the cost of some of Samsung’s legal defense if it lost. But because they did not receive that evidence, they were left with unanswered questions about Apple’s motivation for pressing its patent claims against Samsung.

“If they really feel Google is the cause behind this, then don’t beat around the bush,” Dunham said.
Added juror Margarita Palmada, a retired teacher from Santa Clara, California: “It’s something we’d like to know more about. To get more of a feel of why it had gone this way.”

The jury in the latest trial had a more tempered view of the Apple-Samsung rivalry than the jury that hit Samsung with nearly $1 billion in damages in the first trial between the companies in 2012 involving different patents and older lines of products. After that first verdict, the jury foreman said the damages amount was meant to send a message about copying technological innovations.

But this jury had no such message, Dunham insisted. He noted, however, that such patent conflicts can be damaging to the market, and expressed hope Apple and Samsung can settle their differences.

“Ultimately, the consumer is the loser in all this,” Dunham said. “I’d like to see them find a way to settle. I hope this (verdict) in some way helps shape that future.”

Photo: Glenn Chapman via Flickr

Google Ordered To Take Down YouTube Anti-Muslim Video

By Howard Mintz, San Jose Mercury News

SAN JOSE, CA — Google must take down a controversial anti-Muslim video on YouTube that sparked protests across the Muslim world because keeping it on the website violates the rights of an actress who sued after she was allegedly duped into appearing in the film, a divided federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

In a 2-1 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Google’s arguments that being forced to take down the video, “Innocence of Muslims,” would be a prior restraint that would violate the company’s First Amendment protections.

“This is a troubling case,” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote. “Garcia was duped into providing an artistic performance that was used in a way she never could have foreseen.”

Garcia sued after she discovered she was in the video, after efforts to persuade Google to take it down from YouTube were repeatedly rebuffed. The actress had been cast in a minor role in a film called “Desert Warrior,” and paid $500 by director Mark Basseley Youssef, but the movie never materialized, according to court papers.

The actress discovered her scene had instead been used in the anti-Muslim film, which generated worldwide attention and was at first cited as a cause of the fatal attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

In her suit, Garcia maintained that YouTube’s unrivaled popularity gave the film a broad audience, and that she had a right to get it removed because she had been misled by the director and retained copyright protections to her artistic work.

Google argued that taking the video down from YouTube would be futile because it is now in widespread circulation, but the 9th Circuit disagreed.

Judge N. Randy Smith dissented, finding that Garcia did not have a clear protection against the use of her work and that an injunction against Google goes too far.

Lawyers for Garcia and Google could not immediately be reached for comment. Google can ask the 9th Circuit to rehear the case with an 11-judge panel.

Photo via Wikimedia