Trials & Litigation

Attendees' smartphones cause courtroom chaos at latest Apple-Samsung patent trial

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It isn’t just smartphone technology that’s at issue in a high-profile Silicon Valley trial in which two leading manufacturers of the devices are battling over patent rights.

Attendees at the much-watched San Jose, Calif., trial between Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. are trying the patience of U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh with their attachment to their personal smartphones, which not only vibrate, buzz and even ring but interfere with the Wi-Fi network needed to provide real-time transcription of the proceedings, reports the Associated Press.

Smartphones also can interfere with the proceedings when used to take pictures, in violation of court rules. A Wharton School marketing professor in the spectator seats said he first learned of this prohibition on Tuesday, when he was escorted from the courtroom, questioned by a marshal and required to erase the photos, after an Apple lawyer spotted his infraction.

During the first week of trial, the judge has reminded spectators to turn their phones off, tried to shame those who didn’t comply and threatened to put attendees in an overflow room, the news agency recounts. Still the problem persists, despite a sign on the courtroom door telling those who enter “Please turn cell phones OFF.”

It remains to be seen whether Koh will step up enforcement efforts as the trial, which is expected to last about two months, continues. It is the latest in a series of big-bucks cases in which Apple and Samsung have accused each other of stealing smartphone designs and features.

See also: “Apple awarded $290M in Samsung infringement-damages retrial; a ‘speed bump’ on the way to appeal?”

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