SAN JOSE -- Samsung on Monday resumed its defense against Apple's multibillion-dollar patent infringement case, relying on its top marketing executives and Google engineers to convince a federal court jury that Samsung's success selling smartphones has nothing to do with Apple's iPhone and iPad technology.
As the third week of trial got underway, Samsung put two of its top executives on the stand to describe the company's increasingly aggressive marketing campaign to capture a larger share of the smartphone market -- including its recent Super Bowl ads and Ellen DeGeneres' Samsung-snapped celebrity selfie at the Oscars, which locked up Twitter when it went viral.
In fact, pressed by Apple, Todd Pendleton, Samsung's marketing chief, conceded Samsung even ramps up its marketing to coincide with the release of new Apple products such as the iPhone 5, admitting it tries to "disrupt" Apple.
Apple wrapped up its case last week, presenting experts who told the jury that Samsung should pay more than $2 billion for infringing five Apple software patents, such as the slide-to-unlock feature on iPhones. It is now Samsung's turn to rebut Apple's argument that Samsung copied those features to catch up with its rival in the smartphone wars.
Samsung continued to use Google's brain trust as a proxy defense against Apple's patent claims, putting three Google tech developers on the witness stand to tell the eight-member jury how its software designs unfolded over time, including features such as Gmail and search functions in the Android operating system. The Samsung devices at issue in the patent trial relied on Google's Android operating system, which late Apple CEO Steve Jobs once vowed to bring down through "thermonuclear war."
Paul Westbrook, a Google engineer involved in Gmail developments, and Dianne Hackborn, a key Android developer, both steadfastly denied relying on Apple technology in Google's innovations. "I'm really proud of the work we've done with Android," Hackborn told the jury.
Samsung has argued Apple's patent case is really targeted at Google's Android operating system, and it is relying on a number of Google's executives in the trial. Apple, however, has told jurors that Google has nothing to do with the patents in the trial, nor is Google involved in selling Samsung products accused of copying iPhones and iPads.
Pendleton, Samsung's marketing chief, and the company's former top executive, Dale Sohn, who headed its U.S. mobile telecommunications until last year, told jurors that Samsung became the leading smartphone seller through marketing, not copying.
Pendleton testified that marketing such as Samsung's "Next Big Thing" ad campaign, including ads featuring LeBron James, have made Samsung smartphones such as the Galaxy "the most viral brand in the world."
The trial is slated to resume Tuesday with more Samsung defense witnesses.
Howard Mintz covers legal affairs. Contact him at 408-286-0236 or follow him at Twitter.com/hmintz