As he was wrapping up his closing arguments, Harold McElhinny of the law firm Morrison Foerster, told the jury, “When I was young, I used to watch television on televisions that were made in the US.”
He then named several brands, such as Magnavox, that manufactured their TV sets in the US and had enjoyed a large share of the US TV market.
“But they didn’t protect their intellectual property,” he said. “There are no American TV manufacturers today.”
Several minutes later, after the jury left the courtroom to begin deliberations, Bill Price, a lawyer with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan working for Samsung, requested a mistrial be declared over the remarks.
“It was a direct appeal to racial bias,” he told presiding US District Court Judge Lucy H Koh.
Price said the intention of the remarks was clear – that Apple stood to lose out to Asian competitors if the jury didn’t find in Apple’s favour – that there was “absolutely no evidence” to support McElhinny’s assertions.
Koh, apparently keen to avoid a re-do of the trial, denied the request for a retrial.
Instead, she called the jury back into the courtroom and reread them part of her jury instructions that reminded them they “must not be influenced by any personal likes or dislikes, opinions, prejudices or sympathy”.
The argument between the two lawyers was the testiest yet in the jury trial, which has lasted four days.
The case is 11-01846, Apple versus Samsung, in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.
by Martyn Williams, IDG News Service