SAN JOSE -- After Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in January 2007, Samsung had two choices: It could beat Apple fairly in the marketplace, or it could make a copycat smartphone.
That’s what lawyer Harold J. McElhinny asserted during Apple’s opening statement in federal court Tuesday. McElhinny said Samsung -- whose smartphone devices looked bulky and altogether different before the launch of the iPhone -- did what was “easier” and was soon developing a near-identical smartphone under the Samsung name.
“The iPhone, like all of Apple’s products ... is about creating a unique and special user experience. An experience that is so seamless and intuitive that it just feels right. It doesn’t come easy,” he said. “Apple’s competitors immediately recognized the impact of this new device. These competitors included, as I mentioned, Samsung Electronics.”
As he addressed the nine-member jury (one juror was excused Tuesday morning), McElhinny showed internal Samsung documents in which executives discussed the strength of the iPhone; compared images of Samsung’s old smartphones with its newer 2010 and 2011 versions; and alleged that several aspects of the iPhone’s design -- including its rectangular shape, rounded corners, large black screen and colorful icons -- had been ripped off by Samsung.
McElhinny, of the firm Morrison Foerster, said Samsung “failed to take reasonable steps” to prevent infringement of Apple’s products. He anticipated that Samsung would argue that Apple’s designs were functional, not ornamental.
“I think of this as the devil made me do it defense,” he said. “Just because a product has a function, just because you do something with it, doesn’t mean there is only one way to design it.... People should not use what you invented without permission.”
Each side was given 90 minutes for its opening statement. Once again, the main courtroom and overflow courtroom were packed with media and spectators.
Samsung lawyer Charles Verhoeven of Quinn Emanuel began his opening statement shortly before the lunch break.
“There’s more to the story than what you’ve just heard,” he said, and asked the jury to keep an open mind.
“Apple has no right to claim a monopoly on a rectangle with a large screen,” he said.
After a one-hour break, Samsung continued its opening statement shortly after 1 p.m. Pacific time. We’ll update you with the rest of its statement later this afternoon.
Follow Andrea Chang on Twitter.