Shin Nishibori, a former designer at Apple, is fighting a subpoena from Samsung to get him to testify and appear at the patent infringement trial between the two rivals. That trial began this morning, but an attorney representing Mr. Nishibori told the court that the designer wouldn’t be testifying at the trial because he no longer works at Apple, lives in Hawaii, is battling health issues, and because the subpoena wasn’t properly issued.
Mr. Nishibori is at the center of a tempest in a teapot stirred up by Samsung over some 2006 design work he did for Apple. He was reportedly tasked by Apple’s designer-in-chief Jonny Ive to show what an iPhone designed by Sony might look like. Samsung wants to use that to argue that Samsung can’t have copied the iPhone with its Galaxy Nexus smartphone and Galaxy Tab tablets because Apple was just glomming on to Sony in the first place.
Apple has asked the court to disallow Samsung’s argument, arguing that Samsung brought the angle to the case after the discovery period ended. Apple also said that the iPhone wasn’t based on Mr. Nishibori’s designs, but rather on earlier prototypes that predate the 2006 designs by several years (going back to 2002).
Samsung wants Mr. Nishibori to testify to the contrary, and issued subpoena to the designer along with a US$60 check to cover his expenses. AllThingsD reported that Mr. Nishibori’s attorney wrote a letter to presiding Judge Lucy Koh arguing that $60 won’t cut it since he lives in Hawaii, far away from the San Jose, CA courtroom where the battle is taking place.
The attorney also said that the designer is battling “several [unspecified] health issues,” and isn’t a party to the lawsuits in question. Mr. Nishibori was, however, an employee of Apple until earlier in July. His Linked-In profile now lists Apple among his former employers, with his current job listed as simply “Industrial Designer.” He worked at Apple for ten years and one month.
It remains to be seen if Samsung is allowed to bring this argument and evidence to the trial. As noted above, Apple has filed a motion to block Samsung from doing so, but Judge Koh has yet to rule on it.