The Silicon Valley jury foreman in the Apple-Samsung trial candidly admitted that he never wanted the job as lead juror. That's because as a patent holder and engineer himself, he thought his expertise might be seen as a negative, as if he'd be bullying his peers into a decision.
Turns out Vel Hogan's expert knowledge helped turn the case.
The 67-year-old San Jose grandfather of five had an aha moment - one he likely had because he's gone through the process of filing and defending three patent applications of his own.
"I just started thinking about it as if it were my patent," said Hogan, an electrical engineer at Multicastlabs Inc., in Milpitas. "I went through it patent by patent, claim by claim and sorted it all out. I thought, 'If I had to defend these claims to a patent office myself, could I successfully do that?' And then I realized, clearly I could."
What Hogan is referring to is the much-heralded Apple vs. Samsung trial that played out in a federal courtroom early this month in San Jose. In the end, the jury recommended Aug. 24 that Samsung should pay Apple $1 billion in damages after finding that the company was guilty of violating Apple's iPhone and iPad patents.
In hindsight, Hogan has rethought his role in the trial, and realized his background was a positive after all.
He said before he and two other techies on the jury began methodically breaking down the claims, there had been an initial stalemate. And in fact, Hogan first thought the verdict might swing Samsung's way.
And, as a self-described "technologist," he found the supremely technical aspects of the trial "fascinating." That fascination even includes sifting through three weeks of testimony and 109 pages of jury instructions.
Hogan said he has filed three patents of his own, one of which was approved. Two of his ideas include video technology and a 3-D imaging device. As for whether he is personally particular to either Apple or Samsung, Hogan said he's neither: He's a proud Motorola Droid X2 owner. He particularly likes the Android operating system.
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