Apple vs. Samsung: 'Designs substantially similar'

Day 4: Expert witness says Samsung copied Apple

Galaxy S

Testimony in the Apple vs. Samsung trial continued Monday with most of the day eaten up by an Apple expert witness who categorically said nearly a dozen Samsung products copied Apple's iPhone and iPad.

Before Peter Bressler, the witness who made the claims against Samsung, could give his testimony, the day began where it left off last week with Samsung mobile strategist Justin Denison continuing his testimony. He had been the last witness to be heard Friday.

Attorneys representing his company asked why Samsung released markedly different designs for different phones, such at the Galaxy S and Epic. Denison answered that the company was going for "uniqueness."

Upon cross-examination, Apple attorneys asked Denison if he'd ever instructed employees to destroy materials documenting their design process when producing the devices accused of patent infringement.

Denison said he never had reason to ask that question, though Apple has repeatedly accused Samsung of destroying evidence, including deleting emails, and the South Korean company's legal team has been sanctioned by the court for evidentiary indiscretions.

Denison was also shown an internal Samsung communication sent out as reaction to the iPhone in which top executives said the company was facing a "crisis in design." Comparing users experience of the iPhone to that of Samsung's Omnia was "truly like that of Heaven and Earth," the document stated.

The expression, Denison said Monday, was hyperbole meant to inspire the Samsung team.

Devil's in the details

Last week, Apple vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller claimed the Samsung Galaxy S's design proved confusing to consumers because of its supposed similarities to the iPhone.

That theme of consumer confusion resurfaced during the testimony of Bressler.

Bressler, a prominent product designer brought in as an independent expert witness by Apple, was asked whether certain Samsung products – like the Galaxy S 4G, Samsung Tablet 10.1 LTE and Infuse 4G – are similar to the patents Apple holds for the original iPhone and the iPad 1 and 2.

Standout Apple patent features, Bressler said, include the iPad's flat face, rounded corners and black border under the tablet's front glass panel as well as the original iPhone's rounded corners and distinct bezel.

Bressler didn't baulk at saying he felt a Samsung smartphone design essentially copied the iPhone, saying that "the design of the [Galaxy S 4G] would be considered substantially the same."

When the iPad patent and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 LTE patent were placed side-by-side, Bressler expressed much the same position.

In fact, Bressler, as reported by the San Jose Mercury News, said, "It is my opinion there are a number of Samsung phones and two Samsung tablets that are substantially the same as the designs in [Apple's] patents."

However, Bressler would later state that not all of Samsung's phones infringed on Apple's phones, just some.

Upon Samsung's cross-examination, Bressler said he had no direct evidence that consumers were confused between the two company's devices.

However, Bressler would go on to say that to an "ordinary customer" the designs are similar enough to create confusion, contrary to Samsung's assertion that the devil is in the details in proving their innocence.

For instance, when Samsung's lawyers produced the Infuse, they pointed out the phone's speaker are off to the side, not centered like the iPhone's.

Apple lawyers also produced an internal Samsung email saying customers were returning their Galaxy Tab 10.1's purchased at Best Buy outlets because they thought they'd purchased the iPad 2.

'Prior design'

Bressler wouldn't escape the stand without a thorough examination by Samsung's team, particularly one lawyer's assertions that many of Apple's design patents relied on innovations common in the development of other products and were not unique Apple inventions.

Charles Verhoeven, the Samsung lawyer who spent hours grilling Bressler, presented evidence Samsung claims shows "prior art" to support the argument Apple was merely designing it's devices in an environment where these designs already existed.

Tuesday, Bressler will be back as well as Susan Kare, a former Apple graphics designer.

Via San Jose Mercury News, CNET and SlashGear