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Jury foreman says Apple patents valid due to different processor architecture
151 points by bitcartel on Aug 28, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 75 comments
If you listen carefully to his interview, from 1:30 for about 2 minutes, the foreman talks about the jury discussing the 460 patent and how it brought him back to his 'Aha' moment.

"The software on the Apple side could not be placed into the processor on the prior art and vice versa. That means they are not interchangeable. That changed everything right there."


That's the reason why prior art was ignored!

This whole case genuinely scares me for our legal system. It seems like once they found a jury foreman who had his own patent and played to his fears of "what if someone did this to my patent" put himself in Apples shoes and did all he could to make sure they won. Kind of feels like they shouldn't have even bothered with a trial once people are saying "yeah, we didnt even bother to consider samsungs arguments of prior use, we just didn't have time" when the jury came back with a verdict VERY quickly. If you listen to the interviews it sounds like almost every juror decided "well the foreman seems like he knows what hes doing, I'll go along with that." This is not the way our legal system should work.

Its not the legal system that worries me, but instead, its how the tech community seems to misunderstand how the patent system works. I am not a lawyer, but through this whole affair, I have listened to tech pundits and others opining about the case, and I have become more and more frustrated as these people provide lazy opinion based mostly on irrelevant information. Its not the patent abstract, or common belief of what a specific patent entails, that matter. Its the very specific patent claims. The same goes for "prior art". People really need to read the patent claims, and consider all the claims in the patent as a whole, before expressing frustration about how these cases are developing.

I don't know why more folks on HN don't understand this (or maybe the ones that do are just remaining more silent on the issue). I don't think I've ever seen so much ignorance rise to the top in HN comments as I have the past few days.

I think that the ones who do are silent on the issue because it's not a popular view point to defend these patents (or any patents). There are so many people that already had their minds made up that anything that ran counter to that viewpoint was obviously wrong, or biased, or ignorant. Or they would rather attack the jury for having to try to work through a really complicated case and coming to a different conclusion than they would have. Or maybe they'd rather just ridicule the foreman's patent... because that's helping a lot.

But really, who has read the points of the patents, or the prior art? Who actually followed the case in it's entirely without cherry picking comments from media coverage? And more importantly, who actually understands patent law? I think a lot of people think that they do.

This is one of the persistent issues that we'll have to deal with on HN for the next few months. Any time an Android vs. iOS article appears it polarizes this community like none other. Hopefully after a while it will all die down...

Then just wait for the appeals court decision...

HNers are just regular people. They were regular people when they filled out the registration form that is the sole barrier to entry on HN, and when they did it in years past on Reddit and Digg too.

Ryanhuff, I think you fail to realize how stupid the patent system looks when they grant patents like this. I have read the claims. These patents are junk, all of them, on multiple grounds: prior art, obviousness, failure to describe. Junk, junk, junk. Granting these patents makes the patent office look like either idiots or corrupt officials. Defending these patents is just mindbogglingly stupid.

I would be less concerned about HN'ers being able to decipher the intracies of the law around the US patent system than a jury of 12 random people...

That said, you are likely correct in one common misunderstanding. Too many people conflate,

1. the US patent system

2. patent law.

The latter could be working as well as could be expected in any part of the US legal system or indeed the world. This is difficult to tell without being a lawyer and many HN'ers, like ordinary people, do not grok it.

The US patent system itself, however, is an entirely different matter. The core aspects are far easier to understand and is routinely and increasingly derided, including by top members of many professions the world over as well as representatives of the US justice system. The latest cases have only furthered added to these views.

After seeing interviews with the foreman, I'm surprised he wasn't struck from the jury by either side before the trial even started.

Yes. I suspect Samsung felt he would "see through the bullshit" or whatever. Dangerous game to play.

I keep thinking that he's some sort of (witting or unwitting) plant from Samsung, put there to taint the trial and have the whole thing discarded on appeal.

Lawyers widely view trials as a crapshoot anyway. There's all sorts of risk taking and gambling involved. They probably rolled the dice that this guy is anti-patent. When a lot of engineers see the final patent (they "wrote"... with the help of lawyers) they don't even understand it themselves. I saw it done with my own patent. You send off a very nice, clear, concise technical explanation and it comes back in Greek. Plus, I have found that most software people are anti-patent because we're always failing stuff on the obviousness test.

I don't think you can really jump to that conclusion. Prior art may have been 'ignored' but I have a feeling that the question in the minds of the jurors was 'Did Samsung copy apple?'

I think that what's probably more at issue is that the vast majority of the populace regards copying as plagiarism / and/or something that ought to be punished. eg. copying = theft = bad = you should pay a fine.

The jurors are just trying to stitch legal words and technical words together to create the impression that it was judged based on the law rather than the emotional feeling that copying is bad. The jury was probably looking for evidence to find for Apple, not examining the evidence to reach a conclusion. It's a hallmark of trials by jury, it's why when the facts and emotions are on your side you pick a jury trial and when the law is on your side you pick a trial by judge.

I've heard that at one point in the trial the samsung lawyer said that the design of their tablet was so different that it couldn't be copied while pointing to an iPad. A gaffe like that in connection with the idea that copying = bad is game over for Samsung in court.

Errol Morris interviewed a mob lawyer about how he got a mobster off a murder charge, it's a very telling insight into how the average person's mind works.


Another juror sheds more light on what happened. The foreman's view on prior art had a big impact.

"We were debating heavily, especially about the patents on bounce-back and pinch-to-zoom. Apple said they owned patents, but we were debating about the prior art. 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."


For the record, this is the patent held by the foreman. Imho, it is not the kind of thing I'd like to see the patent office approving.


2008, why didn't the patent office say this is basically Tivo? Is there really anything new here? It was filed in 2002, but Tivo (and diy copycats) were already out in 2000, iirc.

IANAL but here are two things I found interesting about the patent:

1. It doesn't claim the methods, only the systems. My (dim) understanding is that this means it isn't a software patent (a "method" patent), it's just a patent on a "system" (e.g. a device) implementing those methods. If you want to claim the algorithm, you have to claim the methods too; these claims commonly mirror the claims for the system, but with the words "a method" generally replacing "a system".

2. A claim stakes out an area of ownership; the more "and"s there are, the narrower the claim, just like a SQL query returns fewer results with the more AND phrases you include in the WHERE clause. That first long claim (on which all the others are based) could be paraphrased as "Like Tivo, but with the user additionally being able to cut/copy/paste ('edit') sections of video, but only when there's a hard drive, and only when there's a CD burner, etc." So a system that omitted or replaced one of those components would not infringe the patent.

The other claims basically just preemptively stake out further sub-sections of the area of ownership so that the next guy to come along can't do what this guy did and just specialize/narrow/tweak the existing invention in those ways.

Claim 1 is for a system with tv tuner, internal hardrive and a removable media. So it is slightly different then a Tivo.

Although I don't think taking a Tivo and slapping a CD writer on it should be eligible for a patent. Especially if TV tuners where available at retail at the time (pretty sure they were, but I have no evidence of that.) Basically anybody that put a TV tuner into a computer with a CD writer is prior art for claim 1.

Pretty sure I wanted an analog tuner/video VLB-card in the 90s. Couldn't afford one, but I imagine the people who bought them, did this stuff with them.

I think I'm infringing.

If you trust wikipedia it was 1999 that the first tivo came out.


That description may fit an Apple TV. Or any computer

    One embodiment of the invention includes an apparatus
    equipped with a wireless keyboard and software that 
    enables a user to access the Web and email services
    […] and other functions

Sorry, if you actually read the claims of his patent before making your comment, you would have seen the phrase "consisting of one tuner" on the second line. Apple TV has no tuner. You can't cherry pick the claims.

He clearly says that he wasn't assessing actual damages, but wanted to teach the offending company a lesson.

The whole thing is incredibly frustrating.

I think the foreman actually had a patent of his own. If that's true, he must have had very personal feeling towards infringers.

Samsung could have asked for him to be excused. The fact they didn't means they thought his feelings/experience/whatever would be to their advantage. You roll the dice, sometimes you lose.

So, if this is the new precedent, and a new processor means that we can disregard all prior art, am I correct in assuming that all I need to do to keep from infringing is to run this "ip" on a different processor in the future?

(I am well aware that "legal reasoning" and real-world rationality umm... walk different paths, I'm just sayin'.)

I believe that this link is the 460 patent that the guy mentioned:


The content presented in the patent drawings at the bottom are hardware-heavy, and the patent claims and diagrams discuss voltage control, etc.

I am not a patent expert, and not subject to the trial content. But I find it plausible that "processor", or phone architecture in general, might have been an important factor that differentiated Apple from the claims of Samsung's patent.

Adding "with a voltage regulator" shouldn't be any more legit than "...but on the interwebs!".

It looks to me like a snow job. Putting a camera in a smartphone and then (steady yourself) emailing the pictures you take! Seems pretty thin. So throw in a bunch of the technical details that all electronic devices have in common like voltage regulators, chip enable lines, data busses etc, and a bunch of the mundaneness of networking, like the sizes of email headers etc and now we're looking like we've got something that will sneak past an examiner or impress a layman.

I think the point is that Samsung didn't patent "emailing pictures from a phone", but they did patent a very specific, integrated method of doing so. If somebody (Apple) offered the same function, but implemented it differently than as claimed by Samsung's very specific patent, they would be in the clear.

That's an important distinction that a lot of people are overlooking in this discussion. It's not the end result that is patented, but rather the process or method to achieve that result.

And suddenly Intel Medfield is looking good. This whole situation just keeps getting crazier.

Jury decisions do not set precedent, only judges' decisions do.

This is a disturbing farce. I realize that it is extremely difficult to appeal jury decisions, but this is getting ridiculous.

Not only did he take it upon himself to ignore the court's instructions by dishing out punitive damages, but the entire reasoning behind these so-called deliberations now appear to have been completely devoid of rationality.

The poster who compared the logic employed here to Vicini's "battle of wits" in the Princess Bride had it spot on.

I hope people vote this up (the topic comment, not mine here). It's a really remarkable bit of incoherence (that matters because of its role in law).

It literally would have been more coherent if he had claimed that his aha moment came when he realized that both products had black bezels and that did it for him. For all of the informed thought that went on, it seems that we would have been better off giving vote clickers to monkeys. This reminded me of Vicini reasoning during the 'battle of wits' in The Princess Bride.

HackerNew's lack of empathy for "normals" is staggering.

Web development, app development, device development -- it's all clickers for monkeys.


By that logic, Android can copy iOS at will by shipping with MIPS or x86 hardware.

But if they ship on MIPS, they'll have to deal with all the SGI IP...

Better be safe and design a new processor architecture.

They can also ship on SPARC ;)

And deal with Oracle?!

Not if they use OpenSPARC. That's GPL'd.

Samsungs new design after court ruling,


It seems to me that the foreman misrepresented his memory of what happened with his own patent as fact to the other jurors to be applied to the current case; and he got some stuff wrong. It should be made possible in highly complicated cases like this that the jury could bring in experts (with the judge present maybe) to explain the real facts. Or for the jury to ask questions to the witnesses/judge during the trial to obtain clarifications they need to make their decision.

Juries are allowed and often requested to ask questions of the judge during deliberations, but it's up to them to decide that they need that clarification.

I've never been on a jury in a trial such as this, but just as you'll find in regular conversations, members of a jury will present themselves as experts and spout "facts" to back themselves up. A confident "expert" can convince a lot of people.

As the saying goes, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

In a way, part of me wants the patent circus to lead to an actual ban on U.S. sales of a popular, high profile device for a considerable period of time. I don't even care which device. Maybe the system will somehow wake up when confronted with grey-market sales of devices bought outside the U.S.

I agree with the comments here on this being an obvious travesty. I sincerely look forward to the appeal, and am confident in an all-out rejection of the verdict. The proud foreman's interview will certainly be useful fodder for the defense in its appeal.

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I admire the valuable information you offer in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and have my children check up here often. I am quite sure they will learn lots of new stuff here than anybody else! I face an interview with a lighting company http://modern-decorative-lighting.blogspot.com/2012/08/illum... which is successful because of you.

The foreman's 'insight' is a complete logical fallacy, and I would also bet he has no concept of what a cross-compiler does, just as an ancillary point.

The software used on the Android phones would not run on Apple's OK either, so by the foreman's "logic" there can be no patent infringement.

0:21 - "It was exciting - for some it was boring, for me it was very interesting, because of my tech background..."

Sorry, what's your point? Four of the jury members worked for tech companies.

Probably that the guy has a very high opinion of himself. Dunning-Krueger.


You cannot dismiss a jury member's own experiences from their decision making process. It was the attorney's job to vet for the jury for problematic backgrounds, and to toss out those that they were concerned about. The fact that this person was on the jury tells me that they were comfortable with his background.

Also, four of the jury members work for high tech companies, including Intel, AT&T, a circuit board manufacturer, and a hard drive company. So while the foreman was unique in that he holds a patent, many of the jurists have had at least some exposure to technology products in their professional careers.

"Many of the jurors," you mean. A jurist is a judge or a legal scholar.

Yes, sorry. Thanks for the correction. "Jury members"

That is a Foreman's understanding of prior art? US desperately needs a large number of able hands to handle patent related cases that have resulted from easy doling out of patents by the USPTO. The present Intellectual Property Regime is becoming a threat for innovation itself.

So, iOS can't be run on Samsung's tablets. Does this then invalidate Apple's claims?

The bit about code/processor interchangeability is actually between 3:00 and 3:30.

This whole mess reminds me of the Polaroid VS Kodak case where Kodak was found to infringe because the result, IE an instant photograph, with no regard towards the process which was totally different.

Watching this guy talk makes me fear for the future of the human species.

great artists steal, good artists get prosecuted

I would like to bounce back with a comment... but I am afraid I would be infringing on an Apple patent.

please, keep talking jury foreman. this thing is going down in flames on appeal at this rate.

I think he may have a valid point. Perhaps apple have invented some new numbers, like eleventy-four, that don't fit into the old computers properly due to magic and stuff.

Bill Watterson should have been put in charge of everything years ago. I suspect he would grumble though if anyone tried to.

The sad thing about all this is that this does not necessarily mean that the verdict can be thrown out. Post-verdict juror interviews can only be used to throw out verdicts if they reveal gross juror misconduct. Juror incompetence is generally not sufficient grounds to throw out a verdict (assuming unlike in this case, that the verdict is otherwise coherent).

Yes, this is the sad thing. You have to prove that the jury tampered with itself or was too stupid to or too biased to do its job. Very hard to do. Alsup, in the Google trial, showed some great strategy here where he told the jury "assume you can copyright apis" while reserving to make a judgement as a matter of law on the issue later. So the Jury could say "guilty of copyright infringement" and he could say, "Thank you, oh by the way you can't copyright APIs, but if you could you would have infringed."

If anything Judge Koh seemed more inclined to put as much into the juries hands as possible.

It's sad in this case, but being unable to throw out the decision of an incompetent jury is the price of jury nullification. If judges could throw out jury decisions just because they disagree, there wouldn't be much point to having juries at all.

Not really. Jury nullification in criminal trials is actually a special case - other kinds of findings by juries can be thrown out, including a jury finding the defendant guilty, but not guilty verdicts are sacrosant.

Judges can overrule juries, in extreme cases.


Jury nullification is the only counter-example: a judge cannot overrule a nont-guilty criminal decision.

Wow! throughout the interview the guy looked extremely confident. It was as if questions were pre decided and he was given time to prepare answer. Like the comment about punishment and not compensation for infringement. The quickness with which they made the decision and haste with which they decided to overlook 'debates' or point of contention is sad. Debate in this case is anyone arguing that patents are not valid. This guy with his immaturity and pre notions have set back tech industry and slowed its growth something on which all tech knowledge workers depend.

> Wow! throughout the interview the guy looked extremely confident.

I'd attribute this to Dunning-Krueger. The guy thinks he was the smartest shit in the room - "I had an aha moment, I explained it to them, I laid it out, I this, I that."

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