Bloomberg News

Apple Jury May Have Leaned on Engineer, Patent Holder

August 25, 2012

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Jurors who zipped through more than 600 questions in three days to arrive at their verdict in the intellectual-property battle between Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) and Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) had as their leader an engineer with a patent to his name.

Velvin Hogan, foreman of the nine-member panel, told the court during jury selection last month that he spent seven years working with lawyers to obtain his own patent, one covering “video compression software,” a hobby of his.

Hogan said he worked in the computer hard-drive industry for 35 years at companies including Memorex Corp., Colorado- based Storage Technology Corp. and Massachusetts-based Digital Equipment Corp.

“If there is one juror who seems more clearly knowledgeable than the others, the jury will often look to that person to help them work through the issues, and perhaps elect him foreman,” Mark Lemley, a Stanford Law School Professor, said yesterday in an interview.

The jury in federal court in San Jose, California, also included a mechanical engineer, an aspiring software engineer and a woman who worked for National Semiconductor Corp. While the interests and professional backgrounds of those jurors reflect the Silicon Valley pool from which the panel was drawn, another juror works at a cycling shop and one panelist didn’t go to college and works in construction, according to court transcripts. Seven of the nine panelists said they had never served on a jury before.

Three-Week Trial

Following a four-week trial, Apple yesterday won more than $1 billion after the jury found Samsung infringed six of seven patents for its mobile devices in a verdict that may lead to a ban on U.S. sales of handheld electronics a judge deems to violate Apple’s rights. The jury was required under federal rules to issue a unanimous verdict.

Hogan, who told the court he had served on three juries in civil cases and has two children in their 40s, couldn’t be reached for comment at a phone number or address listed under his name.

Aarti Mathur, who told the court she has worked at information technology startups as a benefits administrator, spoke briefly about serving on the jury, her first, after yesterday’s verdict.

“It was a very exciting experience and a unique and novel case,” she said in an interview at her home. “There was a lot to go through and we were able to sort it out.” She declined to comment further.

Hogan was issued a patent covering a “method and apparatus for recording and storing video information,” according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

‘Very Useful’

“I could imagine him being very useful to the other jurors as long as he’s not trying to dominate the jury room,” said Mark McKenna, a University of Notre Dame Law School professor, in an interview before yesterday’s verdict. “It could be the case that because this guy has a lot of expertise that a lot of jurors defer a lot of specific questions to him.”

Hogan’s patent isn’t the same type as those covering software features and design elements that were at issue in the trial, McKenna said.

“But the patent is not as unrelated to Apple’s as a biotech patent or a piece of farm machinery” he said. “It’s still in the tech industry.”

One prospective juror who Apple successfully fought to remove from the case was a Google Inc. (GOOG:US) engineer who told the court he worked in some capacity with patents covering technologies for the search engine company’s YouTube unit, AdWords program and Android operating system.

Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus smartphone, which the jury found to infringe two Apple patents, was the first smartphone to use Google’s Android 4.0 operating system.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., 11- cv-01846, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

To contact the reporters on this story: Joel Rosenblatt in San Francisco at jrosenblatt@bloomberg.net; Karen Gullo in San Francisco at kgullo@bloomberg.net; Douglas MacMillan in San Francisco at dmacmillan3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net; Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net


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