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Apple ahead on points: scoring the Apple-Samsung trial so far

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Apple and Samsung are locked in a courtroom battle over patents, look and feel, and massive corporate egos.

But it’s hard for legal newbies to know who’s winning.

So I asked Kevin Taylor, a partner at Schnader Harrison to give us the play-by-play. He has over 19 years’ corporate counsel and trial experience for companies such as GE Capital, Societe General, and Citibank.

Venturebeat: Score the trial for us … who’s winning?

Taylor: I might give a slight edge to Apple. It’s too early to tell, though. Samsung’s attempt to argue that Apple was inspired by a Sony design could kill Apple’s case.

But Samsung’s evidence to support that argument has been excluded for now. So Apple has a slight edge at this time, unless there’s a way to get that evidence in.

VentureBeat: Was Apple’s request for summary judgement after Samsung released rejected evidence to the media a knockout punch from Apple, or just a scoring blow?

Taylor: Not a knockout punch.

Apple’s lawyers scored a point — a scoring blow, if you will — in asking the trial judge to sanction Samsung’s lawyers for making public evidence excluded in this case.

VentureBeat: How does angering the judge by involving the media affect her judgement?

Taylor: Judges do their best to be impartial. But if Samsung’s lawyers are doing something that she told them not to do, Judge Koh will be justified in coming down hard on them.

VentureBeat: Is Samsung just looking for a mistrial?

Taylor: I doubt Samsung’s gone this far to get a mistrial. They want to win.

But it would be good for them to get a mistrial. It would force Apple to start arguing this case in court all over again.

VentureBeat: Whoever wins, how likely is an appeal?

Taylor: An appeal is likely.

Both companies have deep pockets and feel strongly about their cases. So this case will be around for a while, probably through an appeal.

VentureBeat: How patentable is look & feel?

Taylor: Look and feel has some patentability. It’s possible to get a look and feel patent.

But a big issue is, can consumers differentiate your product’s look and feel from a competitors? Look and feel can be fuzzy. It’s hard to tell whether a company has copied a competitor’s product’s look and feel or if both products just look similar.

VentureBeat: Do you agree with the judge’s decision to disallow the Sony evidence?

Taylor: That is evidence that relates to the validity of the Apple patents, not whether Samsung copied Apple’s design. The latter is the central issue of this case, so in that respect, I agree with her.

The evidence has to relate to the case at hand.

Image credit: Losevsky Photo and Video / Shutterstock.com