By Matt Macari and Nilay Patel

After over a year of drama, the patent battle between Apple and Samsung heads to trial in California today. While there’s no doubt both sides will do their best to present theatrical and emotional arguments, in the end the jury will be left with a defined set of intellectual property rights asserted against a specific list of devices — mostly variants of the Samsung Galaxy S, Galaxy S II, and the Galaxy Tab 10.1. (Remember that the Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy S III aren’t part of this trial — they’re part of another case between these two companies scheduled to go to trial sometime next year.)

All that may not be nearly as sensational as eight-sided iPhone prototypes and other glimpses into Apple and Samsung’s inner workings, but understanding what’s really at stake is the key to organizing the deluge of information we’ll see over the months ahead. So let’s review what Apple and Samsung are really fighting over, as well as the stories each company will try to tell. There’s a lot going on.