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Apple Schill-er: 'I was shocked - SHOCKED! They went and copied the iPhone'

Plus: 'Samsung's so-called apology is derisory to say the least'

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QuoTW This week saw the return of the big US patent trial that was once a resounding $1bn victory for Apple and is now a long-running, achingly irritating waste of everyone's time. Nevertheless, they continue to spar in courts all over the world, making lawyers rich instead of spending all their money on actual innovation.

This week, they were arguing over the $400m or so of damages that Judge Lucy Koh cut of the original jury-awarded billion dollars Apple won. It's basically chump change for both firms, but El Reg is sure it's the principle of the thing that counts. In the usual back-and-forth, Apple's top marketing boy Phil Schiller laid it on thick about how upset the firm was to see its precious iDevice copied by Samsung. He told the court:

I was quite shocked. They went and copied the iPhone.

It weakens the view that the world has for Apple.

In cross-examination, Samsung’s attorney Bill Price tried a bit of sarcasm:

Apple doesn’t own a patent on a product being beautiful or sexy. Isn’t that correct? Apple doesn’t own the right to preclude the design of this hardware (holding a Samsung tablet)?

And got a swift smackdown from Schiller:

I don’t know which Samsung devices are allowed to copy our devices and which ones aren’t.

Samsung was hoping to pay just $57m in additional damages, with its attorney Michael Wagner claiming there was no evidence that people bought Sammy devices just for the Appley features they contain:

I believe people bought these phones for other features.

But in the end, Apple won a lot closer to the $379m it was looking for. After three days of thinking it over, the jury gave the fruity firm $290m, bringing its total, for this case anyway, to $890m. Apple was so thrilled, it actually ran out a statement straight away:

For Apple, this case has always been about more than patents and money. It has been about innovation and the hard work that goes into inventing products that people love. While it's impossible to put a price tag on those values, we are grateful to the jury for showing Samsung that copying has a cost.

The full sum isn't exactly peanuts to Sammy, but hey, let's not forget, it might not ever have to pay that, since there are still loads and loads of appeal processes to get through before this whole sorry mess winds up.

This was also the week when everyone over at Microsoft got in touch with their fee-fees, as both chief exec Steve Ballmer and founder Bill Gates shed a tear over his impending retirement.

Ballmer kicked things off with a moist-eyed mea culpa to the Wall Street Journal, admitting that perhaps some of what went down at the one-time giant of the tech world was his bad:

At the end of the day, we need to break a pattern. Face it: I'm a pattern.

Maybe I'm an emblem of an old era, and I have to move on. As much as I love everything about what I'm doing the best way for Microsoft to enter a new era is a new leader who will accelerate change.

Part of being old school was his style of management, which he said might not have worked out too well for employees and which he summed up in the description:

I'm big, I'm bald and I'm loud.

There's not going to be much chair-flinging going on at Mircosoft without him, so El Reg, for one, will miss him quite a bit.

Bill Gates was also sorry to see him go, choking up during an emotional speech to shareholders on Ballmer and the search for his successor. He said, with a tremor in his voice:

We've got a commitment to see that the next CEO is the right person, for the right time, for the company we both love. We share a commitment that Microsoft will succeed as a company that makes the world a better place.

Meanwhile, Samsung is insisting that it has sold lots and lots of its Galaxy Gear smartwatches, persuading users to pay cash money for 800,000 of the pricey devices. Previous claims by a Korean website had suggested the firm had only sold 50,000 of the wearable tech wrist-adornments so far.

Samsung claimed:

It’s the most sold wearable watch available in the market place.

We plan to expand its availability by expanding mobile devices that work with the Gear.

In celebration, Sammy UK tweeted a cheeky pic to tween-beloved chanteuse Miley Cyrus, referencing her sartorial preference for little-to-nothing in the trouser department. The company told Miley to check out the Gear, alongside a mocked-up ad featuring a picture of some underwear along with the tagline:

The Galaxy Gear. For performers who usually have no pockets for a phone.

However, the attempt to hijack popular culture in a bid to promote its products rather backfired when UK users' Galaxy S3s started misbehaving after an OTA update from Samsung on the same day.

Among the legions of complaints about the supposed Android upgrade, which was draining batteries and generally ruining phones, was another mocked-up ad, this time with a grimy set of shreddies and the caption:

The Galaxy S3 Android 4.3 Update. For people whose usually good phone is now pants.

Samsung pulled the update and went away to investigate the issue, which was sparking rants like this one on its Facebook page:

Samsung's so-called apology is derisory to say the least. I can't even answer a call now or a txt message. Music will not play and the camera is useless. I have to recharge mine 3 times a day and it constantly freezes. It's a £500 coaster at the moment!

I think a trade-in idea would go some way to apologising for this fiasco. I know the very same thing happened with the Apple iOS earlier this year. They did the same and pulled the update. The difference being they had it sorted in 3 days. This has been going on for 2 weeks now! Heard trying to roll back to 4.2.2 will more than likely cause more problems than it solves. We will have to reluctantly wait till Samsung Mobile UK gets it sorted!

Meanwhile, the Lavabit scandal continued this week when the secure webmail service's founder claimed other providers who threatened to shut themselves down in the wake of the NSA spying revelations had received court orders forcing them to stay up.

Ladar Levison told Reddit in an AMA:

When I was deciding whether to shut down, the decision really boiled down to whether users would prefer to have their emails secretly snooped, or simply lose their service altogether. Since the court prevented me from telling anyone the situation, I had to make that choice for everyone. I had to decide on behalf of everyone without the benefit of their feedback. In the end I chose to shut down.

Why didn't I warn anyone? Because if the Feds had known I was planning to shut down they would have gotten a court order requiring me to continue operating the service. If I had shut down the service after receiving such an order I would have almost certainly been charged with obstruction of justice. I've been told that other service providers have threatened a shut down and received such orders.

Levison added that he hadn't asked his source to name names when pressed for further details.

In the US, San Francisco district attorney George Gascón has claimed that some of the biggest US cellular networks have stopped Samsung from installing anti-theft remote "kill switch" software on smartphones - allegedly because they're worried about their profits.

He claimed that he'd seen emails between Samsung and a software provider that indicated that the carriers were concerned that such a system would discourage thieves, and therefore stop customers buying anti-theft insurance and hurt sales of replacement handsets. He protested:

Corporate profits cannot be allowed to guide decisions that have life-or-death consequences. This solution has the potential to safeguard Samsung customers, but these emails suggest the carriers rejected it so they can continue to make money hand over fist on insurance premiums.

We have repeatedly requested that the carriers take steps to protect their customers. We are now evaluating what course of action will be necessary to force them to prioritize the safety of their customers over additional money in their pockets. ®

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