Howard Mintz August 05, 2012
Spilling … Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller. Photo: Reuters
WITH Apple Inc legend Steve Jobs gone and the chief executive, Tim Cook, conspicuously absent, Apple has put two of its rock-star executives on the stand as ammunition in its multibillion-dollar patent showdown with Samsung, including a software guru who assembled the design team for the original iPhone.
In several hours of testimony on Friday, Apple software chief Scott Forstall described the early days of iPhone development, revealing the secret design work was dubbed the ''Purple Project'' and engineers toiled in an insulated ''Purple dorm''. Mr Forstall also told a federal court jury he pinned a note on the door of the dorm, ''Fight Club'', a reference to the movie's creed that what happened behind closed doors remained there.
Mr Forstall's testimony was aimed at buttressing Apple's legal argument it went to great lengths to develop products such as the iPhone and iPad, which the Cupertino company maintains have been ''slavishly copied'' by rival Samsung. Mr Forstall told the jury the secrecy was needed because Apple was making a new phone ''out of whole cloth''.
Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller also testified as the epic trial ended its first week before a seven-man, two-woman jury. Apple is seeking $US2.5 billion in damages against Samsung for patent infringement and trade dress violations, while Samsung has countersued, alleging Apple has copied its patents.
Mr Schiller, against the backdrop of a video slide showing Apple spent more than $US1 billion on advertising in the United States on the iPhone and iPad between 2008 and 2011, told the jury Samsung's copying has fostered consumer confusion and made it harder to market Apple products. ''Samsung has ripped off a number of our design elements,'' he said.
In questioning Mr Schiller and Mr Forstall, Samsung lawyers tried to poke holes in Apple's argument that it was a lone innovator in the smartphone and tablet world, suggesting Apple was guilty of imitating competitors as much as any company.
Both witnesses were confronted with internal Apple emails among top executives discussing ''tear-downs'' and reviews of rival products, including Samsung's.
The Apple executives said it was common to review competitors' products, but distinguished that from copying designs.
Mr Schiller faced a tense moment when a Samsung attorney asked him if the iPhone 5, to be released next month, has a different design to the 4S. He declined to discuss the design, saying it was confidential.
The trial proceeded on Friday after US District judge Lucy Koh rejected Apple's bid to end the case immediately with a judgment in its favour. Apple had urged Judge Koh to make the finding based on a controversial Samsung news release sent out earlier in the week that decried some of the judge's rulings barring some of its evidence.
Judge Koh condemned Samsung's legal team for its ''theatrics'' and ''sideshow,'' but refused to stop the trial.
San Jose Mercury News