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What the Apple v Samsung verdict says about US jury trials

Following a $1 billion verdict for Apple on Friday, it is clear that brand reputation and the gut instincts of ordinary consumers are crucial to winning patent cases before US juries

Much of the verdict undoubtedly turned on brand reputation and perception, as well as the jury’s collective instinct, said Kevin Boully of Persuasion Strategies. “It’s going to come down to a consensus on their gut feeling about who’s in the right,” said Boully.

But US juries are also very patent friendly, even when it means they might have to pay more for new technology. “Two-thirds of the jury-eligible public believe that patents help competition,” Boully added.

Juries in Silicon Valley are also particularly IP-savvy, said Ronald Beaton of Trial Graphix. “The longer you live in [Silicon] Valley, the more you understand how important it is to protect innovation. It gets into your head.”

In this case, the jury foreman Velvin R Hogan was a 67-year old former engineer who owns a US patent. He was interviewed on Bloomberg television after the verdict.

Apple’s brand reputation as an innovation leader, coupled with possible unconscious bias against foreign companies, meant Samsung was probably doomed from the start. “Bias against foreign companies lurks beneath the surface,” said Boully. “It’s latent but you know it works on their motivations and would motivate them to raise pro-Apple arguments.”

In Korea, a court recently found that Apple and Samsung jointly infringed each other on some of the same technology that was at issue in the US case. Both companies were ordered to pay small amounts of damages.

But in the US, the jury’s verdict has sent a strong message to Apple’s competitors.

“This is a message that American jurors are not going to let flat copying happen, even if it helps their pocketbooks,” said Boully.

Check back with Managing IP for continuing analysis of this case.

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