Epic patent trial over iPhone goes to the jury

San Jose, Calif. - Nine Silicon Valley residents who presided over the epic three-week patent trial between smartphone titans Apple Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. began deliberating the multibillion-dollar case Wednesday.

Apple is demanding Samsung pay it $2.5 billion for allegedly stealing the design technology of the iPad and iPhone to create illegal knockoffs. Samsung counters that Apple stole its technology and is demanding $399 million.

During closing arguments Tuesday, a lawyer for Apple said that Samsung was having a "crisis of design" after the launch of the iPhone, and executives with the South Korean company were determined to illegally cash in on the success of the revolutionary device

Samsung's lawyer countered that the technology giant was simply and legally giving consumers what they want: Smart phones with big screens. Lawyers finished their closing arguments late Tuesday.

The competing claims came after last-minute talks between chief executives failed to resolve the dispute.

Apple Corp. argues that Samsung Electronics Co. should pay the Cupertino-based company $2.5 billion for ripping off its iPhone and iPad technology when it marketed competing devices.

Samsung has sold 22.7 million smartphones and tablets using stolen - "infringed" in legalese - Apple technology since June 2010 on sales of $8.16 billion, Apple's lead attorney, Harold McElhinny told jurors.

"The damages in this case should be large because the infringement has been massive," he said.

McElhinny said Apple confronted Samsung about the alleged copying and sought a resolution before filing its lawsuit last year.

"Instead of doing the right thing, Samsung decided to gin up claims of its own," McElhinny said of Samsung's counter claim seeking $399 million from Apple for allegedly using Samsung technology in making the iconic iPhone and iPad.

Apple and Samsung combined account for more than half of global smartphone sales. Apple is also demanding that Samsung pull its most popular cellphones and computer tablets from the U.S. market.

"Apple is asking what it is not entitled to," Samsung's lawyer Charles Verhoeven said during his closing arguments. "Rather than competing in the marketplace, Apple is seeking an edge in the courtroom."

Verhoeven argued that the state of technology has led most phone makers to design simple-to-use products with large, rounded rectangular faces. He conceded that Apple makes great products but said it doesn't have a monopoly on the design it claims it created.

"There is nothing nefarious about this, it's the way technology has evolved," he said, showing jurors a slide of a Best Buy advertisement with photos of similar looking phones made by several different companies. "It's not against the law in this country to be inspired by your competition."

Verhoeven implored jurors to reject Apple's claims as a way to preserve competition in the United States for smartphones and computer tabs. He said a verdict in Apple's favor could reverberate throughout the marketplace.

"Consumers deserve a choice," the lawyer argued.

Apple's damage demands, if awarded, would represent the largest patent verdict in the U.S.

From the beginning, experts and analysts have viewed Samsung as the underdog. Apples headquarters is a mere 10 miles from the courthouse ,and jurors were picked from the heart of Silicon Valley where the company's late founder, Steve Jobs, is revered.

While the legal and technological issues may be complex, patent expert Alexander I. Poltorak says the case will likely boil down to whether jurors believe Samsung's products look and feel almost identical to Apple's.

"Most jurors will probably say they look alike," said Poltorak, who is chief executive of General Patent Corp.

In June, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh called Samsung's Galaxy 10.1 tablet computer "virtually indistinguishable" from Apple's iPad and banned its sale here until the case is resolved.

"There was some evidence that Samsung altered its design to make its product look more like Apple's," Koh found two months before the trial started.

To overcome that hurdle, Samsung's lawyers have argued that many of Apple's claims of innovation are either obvious ideas or were stolen ideas from Sony Corp. and others.

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