ITC Judge May Turn to Cheech & Chong in Apple/Samsung Case

An ITC judge may turn to comedy icons Cheech and Chong when examining Apple’s complaint that Samsung copied Apple’s iPhone and iPad designs in several of its Android devices. Bloomberg reported that the judge told attorneys representing the companies in opening that the case might come down to what he called the “Cheech and Chong Test,” or more specifically, “Does it look like it, feel like it, smell like it?”

Judges Cheech & Chong

Artist’s Rendition of Judges Cheech and Chong

That’s a reference to sketch the comedians performed where they asked those questions. The judge was too polite to quote Messrs. Marin and Chong more extensively, but the punch line to to the gag is [PROFANITY TO FOLLOW]:

Looks like dog shit, smells like dog shit, feels like dog shit, tastes like dog shit. Must be dog shit. Good thing we didn’t step in it!

Truer words were ne’er spake, surely.

Apple is accusing Samsung of violating its design patents on iPhone and iPad in civil courts in the U.S. and other countries, as well as the U.S. International Trade Commission. Samsung has also accused Apple of violating some of its patents, most of which are standards-essential patents.

Today’s comments came from Judge Thomas Pender, who is hearing Apple’s complaints against Samsung. Samsung’s complaints will be heard in a separate ITC trial later, and both ITC cases are separate from the civil cases being heard around the globe.

An ITC victory, however, will be powerful ammunition for either company in their ongoing battles, and such a win will play a major role in deciding which side is favored in whatever settlement they eventually reach.

In today’s hearing, Apple lawyer Harold McElhinny of Morrison & Foerster said, “Not content to copy the overall design and interface, Samsung has copied the smallest detail of the iPhone. Samsung copied our original and iconic design.”

In other documents and executive statements, Apple has accused Samsung of “slavishly copying” Apple’s designs. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said he would prefer a settlement, but that it is unacceptable for Apple to be, “the developer for the world,” and that he wants for other companies to, “invent their own stuff.”

For its part, Samsung bandied its long history in the telecom industry. In his opening statement, Samsung lawyer Charles Verhoeven of Quinn Emanuel said, “Samsung has been in this industry, building and innovating to the point where Apple could enter the market. We are anything but an also-ran trying to copy Apple’s technology.”

According to Bloomberg, he also said that a rectangular shape with a wide touchscreen was just one of many form factors being developed by his company before the iPhone. He didn’t explain why those form factors didn’t come to market before the iPhone or why they had to use an operating system, Android, that came out long after the iPhone was released.

Still, he stipulated that, “Samsung is also known for its designs. We’ve been recognized worldwide and compared favorably [to Apple].”

[Image made with help from Shutterstock]