Apple, Samsung Square Off in $2 Billion Patent Trial

By Josh Long Comments
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Apple and Samsung are seeking to curry favor with a jury in opening statements in a trial that represents a worldwide battle for patent supremacy aimed at domination of the smartphone market.

Apple is reportedly seeking approximately $2 billion from Samsung for infringement of its patents. 

In lawsuits filed around the world, the tech titans have accused each other of infringing on their respective patents, seeking injunctions that would bar sales of competing smartphones such as Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy Nexus.

Apple made opening statements Tuesday before a jury of eight in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Reuters reported.

"They (Samsung) will try to tell you that our inventions were and are trivial," the news agency quoted Apple attorney Harold McElhinny as telling the jury in opening statements. "And that they are not valuable."

Samsung was expected to contradict Apple in opening statements later Tuesday.

As U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh – who is overseeing the trial – noted in 2012, the lawsuit "is but one action in a worldwide constellation of litigation between the two companies."

Cash-bloated Apple cites legal proceedings, including the potential for adverse rulings related to intellectual property, as one of its risk factors in its Oct. 29, 2013, annual report, and the iPhone maker said it "is vigorously defending infringement actions in courts in a number of U.S. jurisdictions and before the U.S. International Trade Commission, as well as internationally in Europe and Asia."

The International Trade Commission is an important venue for companies like Apple seeking to protect their patents because the quasi-judicial federal agency has the authority to bar infringing products from entering the U.S. market. Smartphone makers Apple and Samsung also have asked federal courts to issue injunctions against each other, which, if issued, could be far more damaging to revenues and the bottom line than a court judgment.   

Yankee Group analyst Carl Howe said the current trial won't resolve the long-standing feud between Apple and Samsung.

"While Samsung has yet to win an award against Apple in any court, it simply chalks up those battles as a cost of doing business," Howe noted in written comments. "Further, even though Apple won a nearly (U.S.) $1 billion judgment against Samsung last year on a set of older patents, Samsung has yet to pay a penny of that award and has not had to stop selling any of its products."

Apple, whose cash hoard totaled $158 billion last year, and Samsung, control the U.S. smartphone market. In the three-month average period ending Jan. 2014, Apple led the U.S. smartphone market with 41.6 percent share while Samsung ranked No. 2 but only held 26.7 percent market share, according to comScore Inc., a digital business analytics firm.

But worldwide, Samsung extended its lead last year as the No. 1 smartphone maker with 32 percent market share, according to Canalys, an independent analysis company.

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