As Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd duke it out in Australia over their copyrights, lawyers are organizing an irregular court procedure: “hot tubbing.” This is officially known as “concurrent evidence” and involves calling multiple witnesses to give evidence together.
Though episodes of this epic legal battle are taking place in parallel at several countries around the world, Australia alone is hot tubbing, and such practice is becoming more popular there.
The advantages of concurrent evidence is that it keeps the intimidating expertise of a single speaker from overwhelming a jury. Other experts can chime in to challenge each other’s authority.
“I think in a case like this it’s quite a good approach,” said Mark Summerfield, a Melbourne patent lawyer. “The basic theory is that if an expert is in a position like that … they will be more upfront about what they really think and they’ll be more willing to discuss the nuances of points. It also tempers the tendency of barristers to be aggressive in questioning.”
As the Apple Samsung spat involves not only copyrights of the design of their hot-selling iPhones and iPads, but also the programming of their operating systems, it is useful to cut through the technical jargon and present the facts in a simplified and direct manner.
Meanwhile, in the parallel case in California, both Apple and Samsung were disappointed when Federal District Court Judge Lucy Koh blocked their motion to seal the evidence from the public. Their design secrets, including possible upcoming models, will therefore be exposed before the companies are prepared to announce them. For instance, Samsung possibly will release an 11.8-inch Android based slate, code-named P10, with 2560 by 1600 resolution. We might expect it in late 2012.
The companies must also release some of their design transcripts, blueprints, and various drafts, in order to determine who came up with what, and when.