Apple’s “Inaccurate Evidence” Debacle, Part 2: Smartphone Edition

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Apple has again submitted what the blogosphere is calling “inaccurate evidence” in its case against Samsung. A photo found on page 77 of Apple’s complaint to the Hague district court in the Netherlands shows the Samsung Galaxy S next to the iPhone 3G. And guess what! Apple screwed with the dimensions once again.

But don’t freak out. This may not be as big of a deal as everyone’s making it out to be.

Here’s what’s up: The battle has migrated to the Netherlands, the only EU country as-yet untouched by the brawl. Within Apple’s newly filed complaint (which is only available for inspection at the Hague court, but has been seen by Webwereld.nl) the company asks for an EU-wide ban on almost all Galaxy devices, including the Galaxy S, Galaxy S II, Galaxy Tab 7 and Galaxy Tab 10.1. Apple also asks that all remaining inventory be pulled from retailer shelves.

This time around, it’s not just about appearances, and that makes all the difference. When Apple first submitted that screwy picture of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany, the lawsuit was entirely concerned with design, so there’s really no obvious reason to mess with the images. That’s not to say that it was some crazy under-handed move by Apple, but it does make it a bit harder to justify a tampered-with aspect ratio. However, the BBC reports that the German judge inspected the devices hands-on and did not base his decision solely on images provided by Apple.

In the Dutch case, Apple’s complaint is far more reaching, and cites patent infringement not only regarding the same EU Community Design (iPad), but other functional European patents concerned with mobile photo management, interpretation of touch events, and Apple’s swipe-to-unlock. In other words, we’ve moved on to software, which makes things 100 percent more complex.

In the image (Webwereld’s rendering of the picture is above), the Samsung Galaxy S is scaled to the same proportions as the iPhone 3G. In reality, the Galaxy S is both longer and wider than the iPhone 3G. Specifically, the Samsung Galaxy S measures in at 122.4mm x 64.2mm, whereas the iPhone 3G sports dimensions of 115.5mm x 62.1mm. But in the image provided by Apple, the Galaxy S has been resized by about 6 percent, making it appear identical in size to the iPhone. Unlike the situation with the GalTab, the aspect ratio has not been measurably tampered with.

Since we can’t actually get our hands on the court documents, it’s hard to tell the context of the side-by-side comparison, but webwereld.nl reports that Apple did mention the Galaxy S’s “non-identical elements, such as the slightly larger size” (also on page 77). Chances are if Apple is actually stating on the same page that the Galaxy S is bigger, there is probably a good reason for scaling the photo.

Granted, the Galaxy S design is under scrutiny due to its similarity to the iPhone 3G, but there are other facets of the device in question, as well. It’s entirely possible that the image of the Galaxy S was resized so that the judge could investigate something unrelated to design. Then again, this is the only side-by-side comparison photo of the Galaxy S with the iPhone 3G, which makes me wonder why a more realistic comparison wasn’t presented, too.

To add to the confusion, Samsung’s lawyers claim that Apple did manipulate evidence, since this time Samsung actually got to be a part of the court proceedings. “[Apple has been] manipulating visual evidence, making Samsung’s devices appear more similar to Apple’s,” said Bas Berghuis of Simmons and Simmons law firm. Because we’re going off of translations it’s hard to be sure, but it looks like Mr. Berghuis evidence was not substantial enough to convince the judge. Google translates webwereld.nl’s reporting as follows: “But this claim was by Samsung at the meeting was not substantiated by evidence.”

I can’t imagine Mr. Berghuis would make a claim that Apple is tampering with evidence without presenting said false evidence to the court. Therefore, Apple’s imagery in the filing is probably resized for good reason. Plus, if Apple was trying to purposefully deceive the court systems with this false evidence, the company probably would have abandoned that plan as soon as the original GalTab photo was discovered.