Patent trials are part bombast, part boredom. Lurid accusations of corporate skulduggery and deceit quickly give way to a mind-numbing slog through the technical details and vague language of patent claims.
A jury will be asked to sort through all that to settle a dispute between Apple and Samsung Electronics beginning Monday in a federal court in San Jose, Calif.
The jury trial is the latest phase in a global campaign of smartphone patent litigation that began more than two years ago. The legal clashes mainly pit Apple against rival smartphone makers whose handsets are powered by Google’s Android software, notably Samsung, HTC and Motorola Mobility, which Google bought last year. Dozens of lawsuits and countersuits have been filed in courtrooms around the world.
Yet the escalating patent battle is more than just legal maneuvering. Patents can be powerful tools for determining the rules of engagement for major companies in a fast-growing industry like smartphones.
Patents are declarations of invention that are often easily obtained from government patent examiners, but their real value — their validity and strength — is determined in court.