SAN JOSE (AFP) - Lawyers for Apple and Samsung exchanged barbs as a major new patent trial opened Tuesday, and debated the role of a company not even part of the case - Google.
Apple's legal team vowed to prove that Samsung flagrantly copied iPhone features and should pay more than US$2 billion (S$2.5 billion) in damages, as the two smartphone giants squared off anew in a California courtroom.
Apple attorney Harold McElhinny opened his presentation with a video showing legendary Apple co-founder Steve Jobs introducing the first iPhone in 2007.
By putting computing power in smartphones powered by fun software and easy to use touch-screens, Apple transformed the market, sending Samsung onto its heels, according to McElhinny.
The attorney told jurors in his opening statement that they would see internal Samsung documents and messages showing that the company felt it was suffering "a crisis of design" with the difference between its devices and the smartphone "a difference between Heaven and Earth." Apple said evidence will show that the South Korean electronics giant sold more than 37 million infringing smartphones and tablets in the United States.
California-based Apple would have demanded royalties of from US$33 to US$40 per device to license the patented technology to Samsung, according to McElhinny.
The overall amount being sought by Apple in damages from Samsung will top $2 billion, the lawyer explained.
"This case is not about Google," McElhinny told jurors.
"It is Samsung, not Google, that choses to put these features into its phones." But Samsung's lawyer told the jurors in the San Jose, California, court, that the case was indeed about Google, and Apple's struggle against the maker of the Android operating system which is now winning in the global marketplace.
"It's an attack on Android, that is what this case is," attorney John Quinn said.
"Apple is trying to limit consumer choice and gain an unfair advantage over Google's Android." Quinn contended that four of the five patents at issue in the trial are not used in Apple mobile devices, but because of features built into Android software by Google engineers litigation was pursued.
He promised jurors that Google engineers would be called to testify to how they independently designed Android software and did not Apple.
Samsung is the world's leading maker of smartphones and tablets built using Google's free Android mobile operating system.
Android smartphones dominate the global market, particularly in devices offered for lower prices than iPhones.
"Apple is an amazingly innovative company, but in some respects, Google's Android has passed them," Quinn said.
"Apple is trying to gain from you in this courtroom what it has lost in the marketplace." In August 2012, a separate jury in Koh's court decided that Samsung should pay Apple US$1.049 billion in damages for illegally copying iPhone and iPad features, in one of the biggest patent cases in decades.
The damage award was later trimmed to US$929 million and is being appealed.
If this new trial goes in Apple's favor, it could result in an even bigger award since it involves better-selling Samsung devices built with Google-backed Android software, such as the Galaxy S3 smartphone.