One of Samsung's top advisors, who is the highest-ranking official from the company to take the stand in the company's legal spat with Apple, says he doesn't know what many of the accused features are.
While on stand today, Dale Sohn, the former president and CEO of Samsung Telecommunications America, said he hadn't heard of background synchronization or quick links, two of the five features Apple's accused the company of stealing from its products. Those two in particular are worth $27.52 per device, according to Apple's damages expert, making them the potentially highest-valued patents in this case where Apple's asking for $2.191 billion.
"Samsung was a very late entry."
Sohn, who is currently an executive advisor for Samsung, has been with the company since the 1990s. Samsung brought him up to testify about the earlier days of Samsung when the company was simply rebranding its phones for businesses and making feature phones, all the way through its transition to becoming the top smartphone vendor with its Galaxy devices.
"Samsung was a very late entry," Sohn said of the company's efforts to revamp its phone business, even as late as 2011. "We were quite behind." That changed when the company brought on a new marketing manager in 2011, Sohn said, and led to "The Next Big Thing" campaign, something that got under the skin of Apple's marketing chief and the company's board.
Apple took offense to Sohn's testimony, with its lawyers trying to undermine his familiarity with software features. That included pointing out that the company was releasing, on average, 18 new smartphones a year, and that Sohn would perhaps not know which phones had which features.
"Every smartphone should have more than hundreds of features."
"Every smartphone should have more than hundreds of features," Sohn replied. "And maybe this universal search feature should be one of the features. And I don't know exactly, and I cannot remember exactly to which model, how many models that we actually embedded."
Apple also brought up an internal Samsung memo from Sohn to employees noting that it had become the company's "survival strategy" to beat Apple, an objective discussed in other documents in the trial. Apple's used that to paint Samsung as a follower and copycat, something it hopes will sway a jury who's spent the last day and a half of trial listening to experts from Google, who have tried to pitch Android as the creator of these features. Google is not named as a defendant in the case, though Samsung's using them to help defend that certain features were created before iOS and the iPhone in 2007.
The month-long trial between the two companies is entering its third week. Apple rested its case last Friday after a lengthy testimony by its damages expert Christopher Vellturo, who says Samsung should be on the hook for $2.191 billion. That figure's based on what Apple believes are lost sales of Apple devices, along with royalties Samsung would have paid based on theoretical negotiations. Samsung's argued back that Apple should pay about $6.9 million for infringing on two of its patents across a swath of iOS devices.
Correction, April 14th, 9:39PM: Sohn's statement about smartphone features has been corrected to reflect that he said he could not remember how many models Samsung "embedded," not "invented."