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Samsung tries to mislead jury while questioning Apple patent experts

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Samsung's been successful in undermining some of Apple's expert witness thus far, but the company's legal team may have pushed too far today when questioning two of Apple's utility-patent experts.

apple 381 scrollback
apple 381 scrollback

Samsung's been successful in undermining some of Apple's expert witness thus far, but the company's legal team may have pushed too far today — and given the impression that it's trying to mislead jurors in the process. Apple called professor Rasvin Balakrishnan to testify about the "bounce-back" patent. Balakrishnan was one of the best witnesses we've seen to date, taking the jury step by step through the nuances of the patent, and why some 20 Samsung smartphones and tablets infringe upon it in either their browser, contacts, or photo gallery apps.

During cross-examination, Samsung attorney Kevin Johnson attempted to discredit Balakrishnan, first by trying to insinuate that two slides presented by Apple were incorrect. In fact, the images Johnson showed featured representative stills from a video the slides actually contained; the video itself was consistent with the labeling and testimony. Johnson then challenged Balakrishnan by giving a live demonstration of a 7-inch Galaxy Tab that didn't incorporate the bounce-back feature — while neglecting to mention what operating system or skin it was running. He followed it up with a video that he said proved the Galaxy Tab 10.1 didn't use the feature either. Unfortunately for Johnson, Balakrishnan had to point out that in the video the user wasn't actually scrolling to the end of the web page in question — a requirement to trigger the feature in the first place.

The witness had to correct Samsung's attorney

Samsung pulled a similar trick when speaking to Karan Singh, a professor of computer science at the University of Toronto. Singh testified about the patents that cover the tap-to-zoom features and the ability to differentiate between single-finger scrolling and double-finger gestures. During cross-examination, Samsung's attorney asked Singh if any Samsung devices could scroll using two fingers. Singh replied they did not, after which the attorney presented another video which he claimed showed just such a behavior. However, the video was of a user moving their hand up the device while pinching and zooming with two fingers at the same time. Singh had to correct the attorney — who grew increasingly flustered during the exchange — that the action was in fact not a discrete scroll as he'd represented to the jury and the courtroom.

With so many complex issues in play, it's obvious that muddying the waters is a sound strategy for Samsung to deploy — but coming on top of the continued objections and courtroom theatrics, it's hard to not see today's antics as pushing just a bit too far. Whether the jury is taking notice or not still remains to be seen. Except for Singh's deep dive into Samsung's alleged source code implementation of the two patents — during which the jurors became so restless that Judge Koh asked if they needed a coffee break — they have remained poker-faced and engaged. We'll see how they do when things start back up Monday morning.