The Big Money of Apple vs. Samsung

Jurors in the Apple vs. Samsung case have heard a lot of big numbers in the past few weeks.

Jurors in the Apple vs. Samsung case have heard a lot of big numbers in the past few weeks.

Some of the most impressive were those of the expert witnesses, who were asked to disclose how much they were being paid for their work.

The first to disclose his rate, computer scientist Andrew Cockburn, said he was getting just under US$500 per hour from Apple. That seemed like a lot, but it turned out it was a relative bargain. A few days later when MIT computer scientist Martin Rinard took the stand, he said Samsung was paying him $950 per hour for his work.

Just as impressive is the amount of time the experts have spent on the case. Rinard said he had spent just over 800 hours on the case, for a total bill of $765,000, while Chris Vellturo, a damages expert who testified for Apple, revealed he'd been paid a stunning $2.3 million by Apple over the past few years for all his work on the case. That's a lot of iPhones.

The jurors aren't making quite as much money. The court provides them $40 per day with a raise to $50 per day after the 10th day of the trial.

Indeed, the only others in court whose salaries probably come close to the expert witnesses are the senior lawyers fighting the case.

Legal costs haven't been disclosed in this case, but Apple incurred a bill of over $60 million with law firm Morrison & Foerster in a previous battle against Samsung that involved many of the same lawyers and the same court.

And that turned out to have been cheap. Apple said its lawyers offered "substantial discounts" and the rate it paid was "generally less than the rates that Samsung has paid for lawyers at Quinn Emanuel with comparable experience."

But the biggest number in the case is Apple's demand for $2.191 billion in damages. Samsung is arguing for damages of just $6 million and accused Apple of playing psychological games.

"They put that number out there, in your heads, so that is the damages horizon you are thinking of. It's a gross, gross exaggeration and an insult to your intelligence," Samsung attorney John Quinn told the jury.

And he might be right.

"It is a highly effective trial strategy for each side to present an alternately high or low anchor damages number in order to increase the range of dollar amounts the jury will consider," said Roy Futterman, director of DOAR Litigation Consulting, a company that analyzes trial strategies and tests them with mock juries.

The numbers can't be totally crazy, he notes. Each side still needs to make them believable, though, otherwise jurors will discard them outright.

"We have seen that it is common for a jury to try to find a middle ground between the proposed anchor numbers and to use the deliberation technique of splitting the difference," he said. "Because of this, each trial team may strategically make its anchor damages numbers more extreme, within reason, to encourage the jury to increase or decrease the final damages number when attempting to split the difference."

The last time the two companies faced off in front of a jury was in November last year, when a trial took place to recalculate a portion of damages from an earlier case. Apple had been demanding $380 million and Samsung had argued for $52 million. On their third day of deliberations, the jury decided on an award of $290 million.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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