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Did the Apple vs. Samsung Jury Fail to Properly Do Their Job?

As you probably know by now, jurors in the Apple-Samsung lawsuit decided on Saturday that Samsung had copied Apple and should pay at least $1.049 billion in damages, in what was one of the most sweeping victories for Apple in the company's entire history. But now there's growing evidence that the jury did not properly do their job. Not only were their inconsistencies in their verdict, but there may even be reason to believe they did not properly consider "prior art" as it related to Samsung's arguments against Apple. These issues could bring this incredibly influential court case all the way to the Supreme Court.

Here's what the Apple vs. Samsung jury did wrong:

They Were Inconsistent
This is the first issue. The jury in the Samsung-Apple trial was expected to assign a dollar amount in damages to each phone Samsung was said to have infringed. But there were numerous inconsistencies in the damages rewarded to Apple. The Samsung Intercept, for example, cost Samsung $2 million in damages even though the jury found that the phone hadn't actually infringed. The same is the case for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 LTE – over $219,694 was rewarded for a device that the jury had agreed didn't infringe on any of Apple's patents. According to the Verge, "The jury found no direct infringement but did find inducement" for the '915 and '163 utility patents. If a device didn't infringe, it would be rather hard for a company to induce said non-existant infringement. Was it laziness? Did the jury rush? Did they not understand their instructions? These are all questions which will probably be raised over the next days and weeks. There are also inconsistencies in the decision to award no damages to Apple from the Galaxy Tab 10.1 (which looks substantially similar to the iPad), while rewarding them capriciously for the Epic 4G – a device which has a slide-out keyboard, a curved top and bottom, 4 buttons on the bottom, the word Samsung printed on top, a differently shaped speaker, etc. In other words, a device which looks nothing like the iPhone was found to have infringed more than a device which looks scarily similar to an iPad. What, exactly, was the jury thinking here? Probably they weren't.

They Were Probably Biased from the Start
Then there is the issue of how quickly the jury reached their verdict. Many analysts expected the jury to take a week, but the jury took just a single day to reach their decision. Since the juror instructions were quite long and complex, a quick verdict may signal that the jury had rushed through the steps they needed to take before making their decision. As the legal blog Above the Law puts it, quite humorously:

It would take me more than three days to understand all the terms in the verdict! Much less come to a legally binding decision on all of these separate issues. Did you guys just flip a coin? 

Well, it's arguably easy to reach a decision when you know from the outset of the trial which company you think deserves punishment. And juror Manuel Ilgan has already told CNET that much, saying that the nine-person jury "knew after the first day that it believed Samsung had wronged Apple." But it gets even worse...

They Skipped Evidence Against Apple
Ilagan also admitted to CNET that the jury hadn't really considered prior art – or technology that Apple copied when creating the first iPhone – in their decision. Here's what Ilgan told CNET:

"Hogan was jury foreman. He had experience. He owned patents himself...so he took us through his experience. After that it was easier. After we debated that first patent – what was prior art –because we had a hard time believing there was no prior art.

In fact we skipped that one," Ilagan continued, "so we could go on faster. It was bogging us down." 

The wording in the quote above is, admittedly, confusing. But it truly seems as though the jury didn't equally consider evidence against both Apple and Samsung. They looked at one instance of prior art (Samsung's evidence against Apple) and dismissed the rest. In other words, they didn't take Samsung's arguments seriously that Apple copied the "bounce-back" feature from LiveTile when designing the first iPhone. Now I'm not sure what was in the jury's instructions but I'm pretty sure they were told not to dismiss Samsung's evidence outright. That is actually pretty shocking.

What Happens Next?
Samsung, for its part, is appealing the decision. "This decision should not be allowed to stand because it would discourage innovation and limit the rights of consumers to make choices for themselves," Samsung lead lawyer John Quinn said. He also argued that the verdict was by no means the "final word in this case." Inconsistent, biased and sloppy: you could easily accuse the jury of being all three, and I have no doubt Samsung will. The more the jurors talk to the press, the shadier their reasoning looks to the rest of the world. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if the case winds up in the Supreme Court.

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