By Dan Levine and Poornima Gupta
SAN JOSE, Calif., July 30 An insurance agent, an
unemployed video game enthusiast and a project manager for
wireless carrier AT&T were among the 10 jurors selected to
decide a high-stakes U.S. patent battle between Apple Inc
and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, with
billions of dollars in the balance.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh on Monday spent several hours
examining jurors about their backgrounds and biases, as the
companies began the trial after more than a year of pretrial
jousting. 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.
Seven men and three women were eventually picked for the
10-member jury, which also includes a store operations manager
for a cycling retailer, a systems engineer and a benefits and
payroll manager who works with startups.
The jury was selected after 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
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 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.
A Google employee in the pool did not make it onto the jury,
and an Apple employee was excused after he said he hoped his
employer would win.
Another juror was excused after saying the case reminded him
of Apple's legal war against Microsoft over Windows in the
1990s, in which Apple was largely unsuccessful. The potential
juror said he couldn't understand how such a similar case could
be brought again.
"In my mind this is practically the exact same thing, but
now just dealing with slightly different technology," he said.
A few holders of technology patents -- including one man
with over 120 patents -- were also excused by lawyers for the
companies, who get a handful of peremptory challenges to
eliminate individual jurors.
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,