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Posted : 2012-08-30 17:14
Updated : 2012-08-30 17:14

Samsung monitors jury foreman

By Kim Yoo-chul

Samsung Electronics said Thursday that it is looking closely into whether patents owned by Velvin Hogan, the foreman of a U.S. jury that recently delivered a verdict against the company, may have been used by Apple.

Samsung’s reaction came after U.S. media reported that Hogan holds a patent in his name that could be used in Apple’s iProducts. ``Samsung Electronics is monitoring the situation, closely,’’ said a company spokesman, Thursday, without elaborating further.

Hogan, 67, the foreman of the nine member jury, has had a 35-year career in hard-drive technology. He has a U.S. patent to his name ― one that is currently causing a lot of controversy as it covers a ``method and apparatus for recording and storing video information.’’

A story posted on patent blog AndroidPIT claims that Hogan may’ve ruined the whole trial for Apple.

“I don’t know how he got on the jury as a patent holder for a patent that Apple may be using.”

AndroidPIT is a famous blog that covers tech and mobile industries, and was the first to raise the claim that one of the Hogan-owned patents was used by the Cupertino-based Apple.

Steven Blum, author of the story, insisted that the apparatus also has the ability to offload video files to an internal removal storage device. Filed in 2002, the patent came 3 years before the first iPod to integrate video, which means it could be used in an Apple device, the author said.

``It could also have been used in a Samsung device as well. In any case, it seems like a potential conflict-of-interest. We don’t know for sure which devices Hogan’s patent was used in, or what his biases may have been towards Apple or Samsung. But as someone who patented a technology which must have been used in products by certain manufacturers, it seems doubtful that he wouldn't have opinions of his own about who in the tech field were deserved of greater sympathy,’’ Blum wrote.

During interviews with foreign news outlets, Hogan said jurors were able to complete their deliberations in less than three days ― much faster than legal experts had predicted ― because a few had engineering and legal experience, which helped with the complex issues in play.

``Furthermore, the fact that a patent-owner was treated as a patent-expert is patently absurd. We need expert judges to handle these court cases, not someone like Hogan who could have swayed the opinion of the eight other jury members simply because of the fact that he owned a patent. Once that was established, Hogan could have convinced the jury of anything,’’ according to the author.

Samsung lawyers are currently talking with U.S. federal Judge Lucy Koh because Samsung believes the verdict should be reviewed based on legal judgments. The nine jurors accepted all Apple claims that Samsung infringed its designs. But they didn’t accept even a single Samsung claim that Apple infringed on Samsung-owned wireless patents.

The judge will make her final decision sometime in the third week of September. It’s rare that a judge reverses a verdict reached by jurors.

관련 한글 기사

삼성-애플 배심원장 ``애플 특허 보유’’ 논란

고양이에게 생션을 맡겼나?

삼성-애플 특허분쟁과 관련 지난 주 미국 법원에서 애플에 일방적인 승리를 안겨준 배심원 평결을 주도한 벨빈 호건 배심원장이 논란이 된 특허를 소유하고 있다는 의혹이 제기됐다.

30일, 미국의 IT전문 블로그인 `안드로이드핏(andriodpit)’은 ``배심원 대표를 맡았던 벨빈 호건이 동영상 관련 특허를 보유하고 있으며 이 특허가 삼성 또는 애플 제품에 채택됐을 수도 있다’’고 주장했다.

안드로이드핏은 이어 ``호건의 특허가 삼성과 애플 중 어느 회사 제품에 쓰였는지 확실히 알 수는 없으나 객관성을 의심받을 수 있다’’고 지적했다.

이 의혹이 사실로 드러나면 삼성에 10억5000만달러(약 1조2000억원)의 배상책임을 떠넘긴 평결의 근간이 흔들리게 된다. 삼성과 애플 가운데 한 곳은 결국 그의 특허를 침해한 것이 되기 때문.

호건은 하드드라이버 분야에서 35년간 잔뼈가 굵은 베테랑으로 화상정보를 기록하고 저장하는 기술과 관련한 특허를 보유하고 있다. 이 특허는 비디오 기능이 딸린 애플의 '아이팟'이 첫선을 보이기 3년 전인 2002년 등록됐다.

이는 호건의 특허가 아이팟을 비롯한 애플 제품에 사용됐다고 볼 수 있는 근거이며 삼성의 제품에도 관련 특허가 사용됐을 가능성을 배제할 수 없다고 안드로이드핏은 지적했다. 결국 어떤 경우든 호건 입장에서는 잠재적인 이행상충이 발생할 수밖에 없다는 것이다.

안드로이드핏은 또 호건과 같은 ‘특허 보유자’가 ‘특허 전문가’처럼 다뤄진 것은 터무니없는 일이라며 법원은 특허소송 배심원단에 호건처럼 특허를 보유하고 나머지 8명의 배심원을 뒤흔들 수 있는 사람을 포함시켜서는 안 된다고 강조했다.

삼성전자 관계자는 이와 관련해 ``상황을 지켜보고 있다’’며 ``그러나 이 이슈가 배심원의 결정을 뒤집을만한 것이라고는 보지 않는다’’고 말했다.

한편 호건은 평결 직후 외신들과 인터뷰를 통해 균형감 없는 태도를 보여 논란을 낳았다.

블룸버그 TV에 출연해 ``삼성전자에 뼈아픈 고통을 주고 싶었다’’는 발언과 더불어 로이터와 인터뷰에서는 ``사건에 참여하자마자 ‘내 특허라면 어떻게 응대했을까’라는 것을 집중적으로 고민했다’’고 말했다.
배심원들은 호건의 발언이 전체 평결에 ‘압도적인(overwhelming)’ 영향을 끼쳤다고 밝힌 만큼 논란은 계속될 전망이다.



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