The high-profile and long-anticipated Apple versus Samsung trial kicked off in San Jose, California yesterday morning with a jury selection process consisting of a 20-minute question and answer session in which a pool of 74 potential jurors was whittled down to 10. Those 10 individuals -- seven men and three women ranging in occupation from social worker to an unemployed video gamer seeking a software degree, according to CNN -- will hear arguments from Apple and Samsung in a case the latter described as "fighting over rectangles."
Kevin Packingham, Samsung's Chief Product Officer, sat down for an interview with Wired ahead of the trial to discuss the dispute and patent wars in general. In response to a question about Apple's focus on design patents, Packingham broke it down into simple terms.
"I would say the patents we're struggling with -- where there's a lot of discussion and litigation right now -- are around these very broad design patents like a rectangle," Packingham told Wired. "For us, it's unreasonable that we're fighting over rectangles, that that's being considered as an infringement, which is why we're defending ourselves."
As far as Packingham sees it, consumers clearly want their smartphones and tablets in the shape of a rectangle, and the fight with Apple is "whether you can deliver a product in the shape of a rectangle."
"A rectangle did not come out of R&D investment that we've made," Packingham continued. "Some of our products happen to be in the shape of a rectangle, but I wouldn't consider that to be an art or a science that we've created."
Samsung's rectangular theme figures to be a major theme in the jury trial, and it underscores how silly patent law has become. There's a neat write-up in InformationWeek that argues the real losers in this trial are "you, your company, and our economy," and we'd have to agree.
Apple's claim against Samsung is that its Galaxy products copy the look and feel of Apple's iPad and iPhone devices, and for that, the Cupertino company wants $2 billion in damages. Samsung's products could also be banned from sale in the U.S. if the jury sides with Apple.
The situation stinks for consumers, but as they say, don't hate the player (Apple), hate the game (patent law).