Attorneys for Apple and Samsung made their closing arguments today in the damages retrial intended to settle up how much Samsung should pay for last year's patent infringement verdict. However, a comment made by Apple attorney Harold McElhinny had Samsung's team arguing for a mistrial on the grounds that he was appealing to racial bias.
As reported by Reuters and CNET, one of the themes McElhinny touched upon was the importance of protecting intellectual property — a battle which he framed as having grand ramifications for both the US economy and the nature of innovation in Silicon Valley itself. He used the television manufacturing business as an example. Many US companies used to make televisions, he argued, but were forced out of business over time because they hadn't protected their intellectual property. "Our economy will disappear," McElhinny said. "If the cost of breaking the law is a small fine ... Samsung's copying will have proven successful."
Samsung's team called foul, with attorney Bill Price asking for a mistrial as a result, claiming that McElhinny was appealing to racial prejudices and concerns about outsourcing with his statements. Judge Lucy Koh, who's continued to show little patience with legal maneuvering from either side, denied the request. Reuters reporter Dan Levine noted that McElhinny argued against the charges, stating that he never mentioned race and that the history of the TV manufacturing business is broadly understood at this point in time.
After repeated arguments from Samsung, Koh agreed to address the manner — thought not in the way the company's legal team had hoped. "I don't think what occurred rises to the level of a mistrial," she said, "but some remedy might be appropriate to avoid further issues later on." That remedy consisted of bringing the jurors out and making it clear to them that their feelings about any given group of people shouldn't play into their eventual decision. With the jurors now in the middle of deliberations, it becomes a waiting game: both to learn what the jurors will come back with, and to find out what new legal arguments will be raised next.