Billions at stake as Apple v Samsung finally heads to US jury trial

The bitter patent war between rival manufacturers Apple and Samsung is finally heading towards an apex in the US today, when a federal court in California starts considering the intellectual property infringement dispute between the two parties.

More than a year's worth of pre-trial hair pulling has been building towards the trial, which centres on Apple's claim that Samsung "slavishly copied" the design of its iPhone and iPad devices and the Korean tech giant retorting that that Tim Cook's company is intentionally blocking competition and harming " innovation in the industry" by way of its "excessive legal claims."

The jury will now hear evidence from both sides over a minimum of four weeks and must reach a unanimous decision for either side to prevail on their claims. Today's initial proceedings will see jury selection finalised, followed by opening statements from the two firms and their legal teams.

The Californian case is potentially worth billions to both sides, with Apple hopings for a full-scale US sales ban on Galaxy tablet and mobile devices and seeking £1.6 billion in damages from the S3 manufacturer. Samsung in turn stands to claim for substantial lost royalties if it comes out on top.

Moreover, the case is seen as the most critical test to date of Apple's worldwide patent litigation strategy, which has so far seen a number of devices banned across the globe, including retail prohibitions on the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and 10.1 in Germany, along with similar embargoes in the US.

Indeed, Apple has enjoyed considerable success in US courts thus far and it's no secret that the trial is essentially a home fixture for the Cupertino-based behemoth, though jury research firm Empirical Creative claims that Samsung will be given a fair trial.

"Although certainly if I were Samsung I would be concerned about what prospective jurors think, about Apple, given that it's a huge employer there, by and large jurors want to do the right thing and decide the case on the merits," said James Dobson, a consultant with the New York analysts, according to Reuters.

Samsung has generally fared better in international legal arenas, with a UK judge recently ruling the Tab 10.1 was "not cool" enough to have copied the iPad and ordering Apple to run a series of paid notices in popular British publications clarifying that its intellectual property had not been infringed. The order was stayed, however, and is now subject to a full appeal.

Will Samsung be given a fair trial on Apple's home turf, where it is such an iconic brand? Has the Korean company borrowed design features from its rival? We want to hear your views.

Stay tuned to ITProPortal for the latest news from the California courts as one of the most important patent-related trials to date kicks off.