By Dan Levine and Poornima Gupta
SAN JOSE, Calif., July 30 A Google employee, at
least five patent owners and plenty of iPhone and iPad consumers
were among the potential jurors summoned to court on Monday in a
high-stakes U.S. patent battle between Apple Inc and
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh spent several hours examining
jurors about their backgrounds and biases, as the companies
began the trial after more than a year of pretrial jousting,
with billions of dollars in the balance. That process was still
ongoing Monday afternoon, and opening statements by the lawyers
are expected to begin on Tuesday.
Apple and Samsung, the world's largest consumer electronics
corporations, are waging legal war around the world, accusing
each other of patent violations as they vie for supremacy in a
fast-growing market for mobile devices.
The fight began last year when Apple sued Samsung in a San
Jose, California, federal court, accusing the South Korean
company of slavishly copying the iPhone and iPad. Samsung
Long lines outside the federal courthouse in San Jose marked
the beginning of the trial as lawyers, media and analysts
flooded the building to watch the proceedings.
The questioning of prospective jurors on Monday demonstrated
the unique challenge of finding a Silicon Valley jury with no
bias toward either Apple or Google, companies that are
headquartered just a few miles away from the federal courthouse.
Both Apple and Google employ thousands in Northern California.
Koh questioned nearly three dozen members of the jury pool
on a host of issues, including their choice of phones, how the
economic downturn impacted their lives, experience with the
legal system and connections to either Samsung, Apple, Google
Inc or its Motorola Mobility unit.
Google is a background actor in the trial as Samsung's
smartphones run on Google's Android operating system. Many
analysts see Apple's global patent wars as a proxy war against
The Google employee acknowledged he bought two iPads, but
also owned Samsung phones and a Galaxy tablet.
"You're good for the economy, I guess," Koh said.
The technology savviness of the jury pool was also reflected
by the presence of at least five prospective jurors who said
they have received or filed for patents, including one person
who said he has over 120 patents.
The stakes are high for Samsung, which faces potential U.S.
sales bans of its Galaxy smartphones and tablet computers, and
for Apple, for which this is a pivotal test of its worldwide
patent litigation strategy.
It has been tough going so far for Samsung in the case.
Judge Koh halted U.S. sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, giving Apple
a significant early win. This was followed by a pretrial ban on
the Galaxy Nexus phone. Samsung has appealed both orders.
The trial is expected to last at least four weeks.
The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of
California, is Apple Inc v. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd et al,