The nine-strong jury in the high-profile patent trial between Apple and Samsung faces the daunting task of ploughing through 109 pages of instructions on how to determine their verdict and a 20-page form in which to give it.
Closing arguments were made on Tuesday in the trial, in which Apple is claiming .5bn (£1.6bn) damages from South Korea’s Samsung, which it says has copied essential cosmetic elements – the "trade dress" – as well as some of the functionality of its iPhone and iPad.
Samsung has hit back by alleging that Apple did not license key wireless technologies to which it owns the patents.
The stakes in the trial, being played out in San Jose, California, just 10 miles from Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, are colossal. For Apple, winning the case would vindicate its aggressive stance towards Samsung in particular and the makers of smartphones running Google’s Android software in general – a track down which its deceased chief executive Steve Jobs took it in 2010 after threatening to go "thermonuclear" over what he saw as copying by Google.
But if Apple loses, it would weaken its position substantially – and leave it open to a fresh attack from Google, whose Motorola Mobility subsidiary last Friday filed an aggressive lawsuit targeting nearly every Apple product, including the iPhone, iPad and its Macintosh computers, alleging that they infringe various functional patents.
The Apple-Samsung case has so far lasted for four weeks, and the jurors are expected to deliberate for another week as they try to untangle the complex forms – in which they have to decide, among other things, whether any of 21 different Samsung tablets and smartphones infringed any of 10 different patents on functionality – such as the "rubber band" effect when trying to scroll past the top of a list – and whether the "trade dress" of Apple’s products is sufficiently "famous" to merit protection.
Apple has presented internal Samsung documents suggesting the company compared its own smartphones minutely against the iPhone in trying to design their own.
Samsung, for its part, has wheeled out products and designs which it says show that the iPhone’s functions, such as tapping to zoom a web page, should not have been patented because similar features already existed.
Closing arguments from lawyers for the two sides finished on Tuesday, leaving the jury to consider their verdict. Legal sentiment has suggested that Apple has the home advantage – and that juries faced with the complexities of such patents vote for the side, or brand, that they most trust. That too could be an acid test for the two sides – although whoever loses is likely to appeal to a higher court.
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