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Phil Schiller in Samsung retrial: making a smaller iPad 'wasn't about the competition'

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phil schiller wwdc 2013
phil schiller wwdc 2013

In front of a courtroom jury this morning, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller claimed that Samsung's patent infringement has weakened "the view that the world has for Apple." By copying the company's marquee iPhone and iPad products, Samsung has effectively diluted Apple's brand, Schiller argued. That's made it difficult for Cupertino's products to stand out, in turn leading consumers to "question our innovation and design skills in a way that people never used to," Schiller said. "As this [infringement] has been occurring, it's harder for us to get new customers and bring them into our ecosystem." Schiller recalled the first time he saw a Galaxy smartphone, saying, "It looked exactly like the iPhone, so much so that people might confuse it."

The familiar testimony came during a retrial for damages in Apple’s patent infringement suit against Samsung. Following a contentious court battle last year, a jury ruled that Samsung had infringed on those patents and awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages. But US District Judge Lucy Koh later declared that the jury had miscalculated approximately $450 million of that sum, leading to this week's retrial. (Samsung must still pay the remaining total regardless of this jury's decision.)

"Apple doesn’t own a patent on a product being beautiful or sexy."

Apple's lawyers claim the company deserves $379 million for Samsung's misdeeds, but Samsung says it shouldn't have to pay more than $52 million. It's a delicate line for the company to toe; essentially Samsung must admit its prior infringement while convincing a jury that Apple is trying to extract far too much money from a competitor. Attorney Bill Price sought to accomplish that today when he questioned Schiller. "Apple doesn’t own a patent on a product being beautiful or sexy. Isn’t that correct?" he asked, while showing the jury one of Samsung's Galaxy tablets. "Apple doesn’t own the right to preclude the design of this hardware." Schiller shot back a testy response, saying "I don’t know which Samsung devices are allowed to copy our devices and which ones aren’t." When asked to identify the product in question, Schiller said, "I can't tell from here. It looks like an iPad to me."

The iPad mini was also a subject of discussion. Samsung attempted to use Apple's smaller-sized tablet as proof that the company responds to and copies the successful ideas of its tech rivals. Even after Price pointed to emails between Apple executives discussing a small tablet, Schiller disputed this accusation. The decision to move forward on the iPad mini "wasn’t about the competition," he claimed. Yet throughout his testimony, Schiller didn't shy away from throwing jabs at Apple's biggest competitor. Samsung's dominance of the Android market may be thanks in part to its infringement, Schiller suggested. "One is copying. The others are not copying as much." Testimony from other executives is likely to conclude sometime on Monday, with closing arguments from both Samsung and Apple expected Tuesday.