By Scott Martin, USA TODAY
SAN FRANCISCO - Apple and Samsung will be duking it out in court this week about features that could be in your phone or tablet.
Apple alleges that its iPad and iPhone are being copied by Samsung and wants Samsung's products pulled from store shelves and online stores - and to be awarded $2.5 billion in damages. Samsung disputes the claims and alleges Apple's iPhones run on its wireless technologies - and that Samsung, in turn, should be paid royalties.
The high-stakes battle opens Monday in a federal court in San Jose in what will be one of the most widely watched Silicon Valley sagas.
"Obviously, Apple is going for injunctions on this," says Michael Barclay, a fellow with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "There are a lot of things in the iPhone that were carefully thought out and easy to use."
The trial is scheduled to go before U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh, who last month awarded Apple a preliminary injunction that could force Samsung's Galaxy 10.1 from shelves pending the outcome of the trial.
The landmark legal case could have long-lasting ripple effects on more than 50 lawsuits waged worldwide between mobile phone makers powered by Google's Android mobile operating system and Apple, say legal experts.
"It's the most important trial between these players, so far," says independent analyst Florian Mueller. "Apple is hoping for a breakthrough that would have important implications for other lawsuits."
Consumers could notice some differences if companies are forced to dramatically alter their products or remove them from markets. Still, if Apple prevails, it wouldn't be long before mobile developers would create technology workarounds, say legal experts.
Apple is waging war about similarities in hardware design, software functions and packaging. To complicate matters, Samsung is a major partner and supplier of components to Apple.
Jurors will likely be familiar with many of the touch-screen gestures that will be on trial. Apple is lodging claims against Samsung about a patent that covers touch-based dragging of documents, as well as pinch-to-zoom and twist-to-rotate capabilities. Another patent from Apple on trial will be its tap-to-zoom function that makes text or images pop up larger. Apple is also claiming Samsung infringes on its scrolling patent.
"If Apple, over time, enforces enough touch-screen user-interface patents, it could have an effect (on) consumers," says Mueller. "Combined, they can make a real difference and have a significant effect on purchasing decisions by consumers."