Samsung claims jury misconduct, demands retrial against Apple

The head juror was 'untruthful' and 'biased', according to a Samsung court filing

The foreman of the jury that recently handed Apple a US$1 billion patent victory over Samsung Electronics was untruthful and biased, the South Korean company alleged in a filing with a U.S. court. Samsung wants a retrial of the case, in which Apple made patent infringement claims against a number of its smartphones and tablets.

Jury foreman Velvin Hogan, "failed to answer truthfully during 'voir dire,'" Samsung's lawyers said in a document filed with the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California on Tuesday.

Voir dire is a legal term that refers to the court procedure of questioning prospective jurors to determine whether they may be biased before they are allowed to take part in the jury. According to Samsung, Hogan was biased and failed to mention important details during the voir dire hearing.

When asked if he, or someone close to him, had ever been involved in a lawsuit he disclosed one lawsuit, but failed to disclose two others, Samsung's lawyers state. One withheld lawsuit is particularly important because Hogan was sued by his former employer, hard drive manufacturer Seagate, for breach of contract after he failed to repay a promissory note in 1993 and filed for bankruptcy six months later, according to the filing.

Samsung has a "substantial strategic relationship with Seagate," it said.

This relationship "culminated last year in the publicized sale of a division to Seagate in a deal worth $1.375 billion, making Samsung the single largest direct shareholder of Seagate," it said in the filing.

"Mr. Hogan's failure to disclose the Seagate suit raises issues of bias that Samsung should have been allowed to explore in questioning," it said, adding that this would have triggered a motion to strike him from the list of jurors, either for cause or as a peremptory strike.

Hogan's public statements suggest that he failed to answer the court's questions truthfully in order to secure a seat on the jury, in which case bias is presumed, Samsung said.

The jury foreman also remained silent when asked if he had strong feelings or opinions about the U.S. patent system or intellectual property laws, Samsung said. But after the verdict Hogan said that he wanted to be satisfied that verdict protected intellectual property rights and copyrights in order to send a message to the industry that patent infringement is not the right thing to do, and wanted to make sure the message sent wasn't just a slap on the wrist, Samsung said.

Finally, Hogan could have influenced the jury's decision, Samsung said. Hogan has said in post-verdict media interviews that he told his fellow jurors that an accused device infringes a design patent based on "look and feel", that a prior art reference could not be invalidating unless that reference was "interchangeable" and that invalidating prior art must be currently in use, according to the filing.

"These incorrect and extraneous legal standards had no place in the jury room," Samsung's lawyers wrote. "For all these reasons, Mr. Hogan's conduct during voir dire and jury deliberations must be fully examined in a hearing with all jurors and can be cured only by a grant of new trial," they added.

Samsung also contends in the filing that it is entitled to judgement as a matter of law, or a new trial on Apple's design patent infringements, because it believes that no reasonable jury could find infringements of Apple's design patents and no reasonable jury could find Apple's design patents valid, among other similar claims, the document shows.

Since the verdict, Apple has asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to block sales of eight Samsung products because they infringe on its patents. The same court dissolved a preliminary injunction banning sales of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1, because the jury found in the same case that Samsung did not violate the patent that had given rise to the injunction.

Samsung, meanwhile, has sought to extend its own claims of patent infringement against Apple products to cover the iPhone 5.

Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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Loek Essers

IDG News Service

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