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Samsung denied mistrial on racial bias claim in Apple case

Samsung denied mistrial on racial bias claim in Apple case

Lawyer comments on Asian TV makers in closing arguments

Samsung requested a mistrial be declared in its trial with Apple over remarks made by an attorney working for Apple in the final moments of closing arguments in the case on Tuesday.

As he was wrapping up his closing arguments, Harold McElhinny of the law firm Morrison Foerster, told the jury that, "when I was young, I used to watch television on televisions that were made in the United States."

He then named several brands, such as Magnavox, that manufactured their TV sets in the U.S. and had enjoyed a large share of the U.S. TV market.

"But they didn't protect their intellectual property," he said. "There are no American TV manufacturers today."

Several minutes later, after the jury left the courtroom to begin deliberations, Bill Price, a lawyer with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan working for Samsung, requested a mistrial be declared over the remarks.

"It was a direct appeal to racial bias," he told presiding Judge Lucy Koh.

Price said the intention of the remarks was clear -- that Apple stood to lose out to Asian competitors if the jury didn't find in Apple's favor -- that there was "absolutely no evidence" to support McElhinny's assertions.

Judge Koh, apparently keen to avoid a re-do of the trial, denied the request for a retrial.

Instead, she called the jury back into the courtroom and re-read them part of her jury instructions that reminded them they "must not be influenced by any personal likes or dislikes, opinions, prejudices or sympathy."

The argument between the two lawyers was the testiest yet in the jury trial, which has lasted four days.

The case is 11-01846, Apple vs Samsung, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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