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Samsung Vows To Appeal Patent Verdict


The world's most valuable company, Apple, and the world's biggest smartphone maker, Samsung, have been slugging it out in court for months over a handful a very valuable patents.

Last week, Apple scored a legal knockout when a jury ordered Samsung to pay more than $1 billion in damages for patent infringement. Samsung vowed to push for a rematch and now it has.

Ina Fried is a senior editor who has been covering the story for "All Things Digital." She began by describing what happened when that highly-anticipated verdict was read.

INA FRIED: A lot of big players weren't even in the room, so you'd have Apple's general counsel who had been there for most of the trial. You had a lot of top executives that testified during the trial. But it was mainly the outside lawyers who had done most of the arguing that were in court when the verdict was read.

GREENE: Well, can I just clear one thing up? Did I hear the judge, at one point, said to some of the people from Apple: are you on crack?

FRIED: She did say that. One of the things that the judge had done was imposed very strict time limit on both sides. They each had 25 hours to argue in front of the jury, and that was for all their witnesses, all their questions, and even their questions of the other side. And Samsung had been the one, most of the time, under the gun, but Apple had just a small amount of time remaining and they said that they were going to call another dozen witnesses, and that meant that everyone had to prepare. Samsung had to do its objections. And so Judge Lucy Koh who is no nonsense, said to Apple's team, you must be smoking crack if you think you're going to call that many witnesses.

And Bill Lee, one of the very staid lawyers for Apple, stood up and said: Your Honor, I can assure you, I'm not smoking crack.

GREENE: Well, speaking of this thing potentially going on and on and on, it now sounds like Samsung is filing an appeal. And I'd love if you could flush out exactly what they're appealing and on what grounds?

FRIED: Sure. The first step is actually to ask the judge to throw out the verdict. And so that's - they'll be a hearing on September 20th, where the judge will do all manner of motions, some of it has to relate to Apple seeking a ban on some of Samsung's products. Samsung, at that hearing, will say, as a matter of law, this jury's verdict should be thrown out. That's very unlikely to be successful. They've already made similar motions during the trial. I would say there's almost no chance that they'll get anywhere on that. And then once the verdict is officially entered, after those motions are denied, then they can appeal it and they almost certainly - well, they certainly will.

GREENE: OK. So the moment we've got a jury saying Samsung, you knocked off Apple products. And I guess I would've expected Apple to then move pretty quickly to get those Samsung products off the shelves and it's now happening.

FRIED: They did. They filed a motion with the court to say hey, you know, we've got this verdict in hand. You should put a ban on - and they asked for a ban on eight of the products in question. Some of the best selling of the products that were at issue in this case.

Interestingly, not at issue are some of Samsung's newest phones - things like the S3 and the Galaxy Note.

GREENE: And Ina, more broadly, I mean, could this kind of set new precedent for patent law when it comes to technology - depending on how this case ultimately plays out?

FRIED: There are a couple things here that have broader implications. One is this question of just how much of the look and feel of a software operating system can be protected. Folks with a little gray hair, like myself, will remember that there was a time when Apple wanted to sue Microsoft - saying that Windows was too much like the Macintosh. And ultimately, that argument didn't go very far. So in a sense Apple's making the same argument this time around - only with more success, and saying the look and the feel and the icons as a whole can be protected. So I think that is a break from the way software patents have been looked at before.

And it really does sort of address the question of just how similar a look and feel can be protected. Samsung, during the case, was making the argument that Apple was trying to protect the notion of a big screen and rounded rectangles. Apple said no, it's much more subtle than that. And in fact, Apple did hold up designs - including some Android phone and tablets that it said hey, look, this is a way of doing it differently.

GREENE: Thanks so much for talking to us.

FRIED: Sure thing.

GREENE: Ina Fried is a senior editor at the technology website All Things Digital. And we've been chatting about the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Samsung. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.