Surprise! Apple’s Design Expert Testifies That Most Galaxy Devices Infringe Apple Patents, Trade Dress

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In the ongoing saga of Samsung v. Apple, an expert witness testified in court today essentially confirming everything Apple has asserted against Samsung in relation to design patents (so far — we just broke for lunch).

Apple is alleging infringement on four design-related patents. Two of them relate to the iPhone, one the iPad, and one on the icon grid layout of iOS. Setting the iOS patent aside for a moment, Apple’s lawyer walked Peter Bressler through each of Apple’s iPhone and iPad related design patents.

The patent expert, Peter Bressler, an adjunct associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania (and president of the Industrial Designers Society of America between 1989 to 1990) who has been called as an expert witness in seven different trials, affirmed everything Apple had originally accused Samsung of, claiming that about a dozen devices, including Samsung’s Galaxy S, Galaxy S II, and Galaxy Tabs, infringe Apple’s three patents.

Samsung has argued before that there is prior art with regards to the USD618,677 patent, which covers the flat front, rectangular shape, curved corners and speaker grill of the phone. Mr. Bressler explained the prior art argument and process:

The point of this process is to examine the prior art you can find. Whatever is most like the ‘677 patent. You compare the patented design to the design in the closest prior art and try to determine the most significant differences.

With Samsung’s included prior art, images from a 2005 Sharp design, Bressler found enough difference to agree with Apple that the art has no bearing on Apple’s patent.

Apple’s counsel also asked about the back of the Galaxy S 4G, as an example, with regards to the ‘677 patent. The Galaxy S 4G has a small hump on the back on both the top and the bottom, though according to Mr. Bressler, the back is not under consideration since the ‘677 patent only covers the front of the device.

The conversation then moved to Apple’s trade dress claims. Trade dress centers more around the general aesthetic of a brand’s products that differentiate them in the market. Think McDonald’s golden arches. Apple is asserting one trade dress registration which covers both the iPad and iPhone’s distinctly “Apple” design.

Mr. Bressler argued that there are plenty of alternative designs to both the phone and the tablet that would still achieve the same functionality.