Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Monday morning in a high stakes patent battle between Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, the culmination of over a year of pretrial jousting with billions of dollars in the balance.
Apple and Samsung, the world's largest consumer electronics corporations, are waging legal war around the world, accusing each other of patent violations as they vie for supremacy in a fast-growing market for mobile devices.
The fight began last year when Apple sued Samsung in a San Jose, Calif., federal court, accusing the South Korean company of slavishly copying the iPhone and iPad. Samsung countersued.
The stakes are high, with Samsung facing potential U.S. sales bans of its Galaxy smartphones and tablet computers, and Apple in a pivotal test of its worldwide patent litigation strategy.
"In some sense the big part of the case is not Apple's demands for damages but whether Samsung gets to sell its products," said Mark A. Lemley, a Stanford Law School professor and director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science, and Technology.
Lemley also said a verdict in Apple's favor could send a message to consumers that Android-based products such as Samsung's are in legal jeopardy. A verdict in Samsung's favor, especially if it prevails on its demands that Apple pay its asking price to certain transmission technology it controls, could lead to higher-priced Apple products.
Apple will try to use Samsung documents to show its rival knowingly violated the iPhone maker's intellectual property rights, while Samsung argues Apple is trying to stifle competition to maintain "exorbitant" profit, according to court filings.
A 10-member jury will hear evidence over at least four weeks, and it must reach a unanimous decision for Apple or Samsung to prevail on any of their claims.
That the jurors will hail from Silicon Valley, where Apple is an icon and major employer, will be something for Samsung to consider during the jury selection, said James Dobson, a jury consultant with Empirical Creative.
"Although certainly if I were Samsung I would be concerned about what prospective jurors think about Apple, given that it's a huge employer there," Dobson said, "by and large jurors want to do right thing and decide the case on the merits."
It has been tough going so far for Samsung in the case. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh halted U.S. sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, giving Apple a significant early win. This was followed by a pretrial ban on the Galaxy Nexus phone. Samsung has appealed both orders.
"That's a pretty strong statement from the judge and shows you what she thinks about some of Apple's claims," said Bryan Love, a Santa Clara University law professor and patent expert. Love said that even though the case will be decided by 10 jurors, the judge has the authority to overrule their decision if she thinks they got it wrong.
The trial is expected to last at least four weeks.
The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, is Apple Inc v. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd et al, No. 11-1846.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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