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Apple v. Samsung: the cracks begin to show as closing arguments loom

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Three weeks into Apple v. Samsung, the cracks are starting to show.

Galaxy Tab 10.1 (hardware)
Galaxy Tab 10.1 (hardware)

A judge's outburst. One attorney accusing another of listening into private conversations. A disinterested juror, bopping his head to a private groove, a Johnny Rotten snarl on his face

Three weeks into Apple v. Samsung, the cracks are starting to show.

There seem to be more attorneys in the hallways. Each court break feels like it lasts a little longer. There's a caffeinated buzz when the legal teams gather around their tables, waiting for things to resume. As we get closer to closing arguments, the question of settlement continues to be raised by Judge Koh — "I'm pathologically optimistic," she said this morning — but you wouldn't know it by the way both sides are digging in.

Samsung often didn't bother with a cross-examination

Something shifted earlier this week as Samsung began its case. With one eye on the clock — and its rapidly-dwindling allotment of time — the company began machine-gunning through witnesses. Up, down, up, down. Apple took the same tactic when it began its rebuttal, cruising through numerous witnesses today. Samsung, worried about the ticking clock, often didn't even bother with cross-examinations.

When things move that quickly, it's hard to blame the jurors if some of them look disinterested. It doesn't help that the trial has entered the deadlands of patent claim language and feature implementation. A jury may be getting a sneak peek at proprietary source code, but that's no guarantee of an engaged audience.

There's been a lack of narrative

Most of all, there's been a lack of cohesion, of cause-and-effect... of narrative. As the attorneys asked for Judge Koh to grant a number of requests this afternoon, they picked precise moments from the trial's testimony. Each represented a critical twist, a legal trump card that made their nuanced arguments irrefutable in their eyes. It was also the clearest, cleanest look at why so much of the evidence had been shown in the first place — far more than what's been presented to the jury.

Whether due to time, happenstance, or strategy, it would appear that somewhere along the line the legal teams started presenting cases for other lawyers — and, very likely, appeals courts — rather than a jury of individuals.

Things will pick back up tomorrow, but it's hard to know if the picture will look any different. Apple has almost four hours left to finish trying its case; Samsung is down to just 46 minutes. Either way, evidence will wrap up tomorrow, with closing arguments scheduled for Tuesday. Where it goes from there still remains to be seen.