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WHAT? Juror in Apple-Samsung Suit May Have Owned Patent Used by Apple

Steven Blum
11

One juror had a very profound affect on the outcome of the Apple vs. Samsung trial – and he may have been biased towards Apple all along. 

Meet Velvin R. Hogan, the foreman of the jury which decided Samsung's fate in one of the most closely-watched trials in all of tech history. Hogan signed the 20-page jury form and read the verdict aloud. He also had a profound effect on how the jury looked at evidence of prior art against Apple. As one of the jurors told CNET,  "In the beginning the debate [over prior art] was heated, but it was still civil. Hogan holds patents, so he took us through his experience. After that it was easier." In other words, Hogan helped the jury reach the conclusion that Apple hadn't utilized prior art in the creation of the first iPhone.

A 67-year-old engineer, Hogan has three civil cases under his belt, a 35-year career in hard-drive technology (Memorex, Storage Technology, Digital Equipment) and even a U.S. patent to his name. It's that U.S. patent which is currently causing a lot of controversy, as it covers a "method and apparatus for recording and storing video information."

The apparatus also has the ability to offload the video files to an internal removal storage device (like an SD card, perhaps). 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. It could also have been used in a Samsung device as well (we really don't know). 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. 

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. 

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Comments

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  • Jack Strauss Aug 27, 2012 Link

    I seriously wonder if Samsung can hire a competent law firm. The one in Germany could not distinguish between an iPad and the Samsung Tab. This one was unable to file prior art in time.

    Shouldn't this guy's past have been discovered by the jury selection team hired by Samsung? On a trial this important, shouldn't they have considered rejecting him for cause or at least use a peremptory challenge?

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  • carl stevens Aug 28, 2012 Link

    hard to believe that he could even get on the
    jury let alone be foreman with the credentials

    carl Stevens

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  • Patrick R. Aug 28, 2012 Link

    The legal team seriously dropped the ball on this one. I guess they winged it through jury selection and samsung paid the price.

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  • GrahamG Aug 28, 2012 Link

    There's no such thing as an "expert judge". Sore losers, however, do exist.

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  • David Spalding Aug 28, 2012 Link

    Hogan may've ruined the whole trial for Apple. Don't know how he got on the jury as a patent holder for a patent that both Apple and Samsung may be using.

    From Reuters via Groklaw:

    "We wanted to make sure the message we sent was not just a slap on the wrist," Hogan said. "We wanted to make sure it was sufficiently high to be painful, but not unreasonable." [If he'd read the instructions, he'd known he was NOT supposed to assign damages as a punishment.]

    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. Once they determined Apple's patents were valid, jurors evaluated every single device separately, he said.

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  • Steven Blum Aug 29, 2012 Link

    Right, the other thing that I also failed to mention is the fact that Hogan apparently felt the point of the award was to punish Samsung. If he and the other jurors had actually read the instructions, they would have known the point of the award was simply to reward Apple with the money they had lost. He and the rest of the jury took it one step further.

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  • CJ Brown Aug 29, 2012 Link

    (yikes! - we're really getting spammed today by a VENA) Could it be if this trial moves to a Supreme Court that this questionable member of the jury could be called out by Samsung's Attorneys?

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  • Dvoraak Aug 29, 2012 Link

    I honestly can't imagine how this juror's actions could hurt or help Samsung's cause at this point. The juror's aren't expected to make their own independent judgements without input from the other 11. So one was in a position to lead the jury.... is that uncommon? Should he be expected not to share his personal experience on the subject at hand? If Samsung's expert legal team dropped the ball letting him on the jury, should their ineptitude overthrow a legal verdict?

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  • David H. Sep 5, 2012 Link

    Sure, jurors influence each other, but when one misleads the others into a gross violation of the directions of the court, it is a mistrial! Just like if a judge clearly exhibits a bias or disregard for due process... mistrial!
    Just because you favor the verdict doesn't mean it should stand.
    It should be a FAIR trial, either way, with unbiased jurors and judges.

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  • Steven Blum Sep 5, 2012 Link

    David, after watching multiple interviews with him, I have concluded that this man knows nothing about patent laws, and was entirely out of his league here. The fact that you would misquote the jury's instructions once on Bloomberg: okay, not the finest moment. But Velvin has been continually making incredibly dumb comments on his press tour. It's a shame; I still believe juries should be able to decide many things. But not when it comes to patents. It's just too complex for most people. I don't think they were necessarily biased from the start, I think they were confused. That's a less salacious angle, but more honest.

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  • Dvoraak Sep 5, 2012 Link

    @David - Forgive me for assuming much of your response was directed at me, but I've got no personal stake in the verdict and, in the end, I don't think Apple has much of a stake either. It may not stand and either way, if you can't win decisive verdicts anywhere else in the world, this one's really not gonna mean that much. They may dream of going thermonuclear on Android but this was a flesh wound with a .22 cal.

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