When he agreed to answer the question of Gizmodo's reader base, Velvin Hogan, the foreman of the jury responsible for Samsung's embarrassing defeat in the patent war with Apple, probably didn't expect so much heat and frustration to be directed his way.
As seen in this lengthy string
of questions and answers, the man received criticism for more than just the ungodly speed with which the verdict was given, the one where a bunch of devices (curiously not including the tablet that started it all) were found unlawful and Samsung was issued a fine of around $1 billion.
Though the rush quite possibly caused the final ruling to be biased, there was another thing that irked the readers enough to put some serious questions in.
One point of discontent was that, apparently, the jury's duty did not include asking if a patent was valid before determining if it was infringed or not. When asked if the jurors had the opportunity to wonder about this, Hogan said no, “the patents were issued the judge instructed us not to second guess the current patent system.”
“We were bound to use the law as it is today” is a pretty strong argument, but the law probably says, somewhere, that if a patent isn't valid, it can't be infringed upon.
Then again, we're not patent system experts, so we'll not question this one. This wasn't the strongest point brought up anyway, and by “strongest” we mean that one particular question marked the end of Hogan's answers.
One user asked “why did you choose to ignore prior art despite it being a legitimate claim?”, to which Hogan said that “ it was not interchangeable therefore it did not invalidate Apples patents. Under the current law the prior art must be among other things interchangeable. the prior art sighted even Samsung does not currently use.”
The reaction was quite verbose. User “Firewheels” expressed it as follows.
“You’re suggesting, then, that the patent is on the particular implementation, not the overall concept? In that case, isn’t it clear that in many of the patents no infringement is possible, as clearly an implementation in Java (Android) is distinct from an implementation in Objective-C (iOS)? If, however, you’re suggesting the patent is on the concept, then clearly there IS prior art, and therefore the patents are invalid. Either way, Samsung should not have been charged the exorbitant punitive damages you clearly believed were due.”
Clearly, emotions run high in this matter, on both sides, and we see a strong chance that Firewheels personally favors Samsung, but his point is still, in the end, only a summation of what many people believe.
Then again, just as many feel that the verdict was just, and people tried to counter the point by comparing a boat to a car and saying that the former would qualify as prior art of the latter if that reasoning was to be followed. In the end, the relevance of this exchange will be determined if it is used as evidence in Samsung's appeal.