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Summary:

In a high-profile patent trial, Samsung suggested that remarks by Apple about the decline of the American TV industry were a subtle dig against Asian companies.

Judge with gavel
photo: Rubberball / Corbis

Lawyers for Samsung have accused counsel for Apple of making subtle race-based arguments in a trial over smartphone patents, and are calling for the judge to declare a mistrial on the grounds that the jury has been tainted by the remarks.

As Bloomberg reports, Samsung has taken issue with a remark by Apple lawyer about the decline of American TV manufacturing:

Harold McElhinny, Apple’s attorney, spoke yesterday of his memory as a child of watching television on American-made sets, and how because the manufacturers didn’t protect their intellectual property their products no longer exist. “We all know what happened,” he said.

McElihinny countered the mistrial demand by telling US District Judge Lucy Koh, “I did not say a word about race, and I did not say Asian.”

His co-counsel, Bill Lee, added that  “Actually, I’m Asian and I didn’t think the same thing,” and argued that McElhinny’s remarks were simply about intellectual property enforcement.

Koh responded by re-reading instructions to the jury that they were not to make decisions based on personal bias. This means that she is not poised to declare a mistrial, though the racial claims could be the subject of an appeal.

The context of the fuss was the closing of a hearing to determine how much Samsung should pay for infringing 14 Apple patents related to the iPhone; a different jury last year found Samsung had infringed the patents, but Judge Koh found they had miscalculated part of the damages.

Apple partisans will likely regard Samsung’s demand for a mistrial as a desperate attempt to shift discussion away from infringement. Samsung supporters, meanwhile, will treat the episode as evidence that the Korean company can’t get a fair shake in Apple’s backyard of San Jose, California.

Last month, in an unrelated proceeding, Samsung suggested that an American trade agency’s decision to lift a patent-related import ban on iPhones, but not on Samsung products, was rooted in nativism.

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  1. clutching at straws, rather than sound legal arguments, methinks…

  2. When you are tanking, always play the race card.

  3. Gnusmas is so evil they would pull the “Race Card” even though the judge is also Asian.

  4. Gnusmas IS GUILTY. It ADMITTED IT IS GUILTY. Its lawyers admitted that Gnusmas used Apple’s designs and intellectual property without any permission.

    But it keeps squirming. It keeps trying to escape its just punishment. It is like a worm squirming on the ground after it got stung.

  5. When all else fails and Samsung is desperate to cut its losses, the company plays the race card. Reminds me of some Washington politicians.

  6. The American TV manufacturers didn’t fail because they didn’t protect their intellectual property. They failed because they continued to crank out inferior products after better products became available. Same thing happened to the American auto industry.

    I disagree with the idea that manufacturers should protect their interests at consumers’ expense by patenting everything so no one can bring better products to market. Our system should be based on rigorous competition, not government sponsored monopoly. Consumers lose under the latter regime.

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