SAN JOSE — McKool Smith partner Lawrence Hadley introduced Golden Bridge Technology to jurors as the quintessential innovator, recounting how the company sought to reshape wireless communications.

“This is a story about the little guys,” he said during his opening statement.

He did not mention his client’s unpaid bills.

GBT kicked off its trial against Apple Inc. and its lawyers at Cooley in the San Jose courtroom of U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal on Monday. The New Jersey-based patent assertion entity claims that several iterations of the iPhone and iPad infringe its patent for an aspect of the 3G technology through which cellphones connect with base stations.

GBT has also been quibbling with its own counsel. In March, McKool Smith moved to withdraw from the case, complaining that GBT had fallen behind on its bills. Though GBT joined in the request, Grewal refused to let McKool Smith bow out so soon before trial.

But Hadley betrayed little of those tensions to the jury, warmly introducing GBT CEO Elmer Yuen. He shared the story of how Yuen, a successful digital watchmaker, was inspired to enter the wireless communications industry.

“He wanted to look for the next best thing,” Hadley said. “He thought he saw the future.”

He stressed that Apple must pay GBT, at a minimum, a reasonable royalty because the company’s technology is part of the 3G Universal Mobile Telecommunications System that is endorsed by major manufacturers. But he did not say exactly how much his client is seeking in damages.

Further complicating McKool Smith’s case, Grewal on Sunday excluded the testimony of GBT’s damages expert, Karl Schulze, finding that his report improperly relied on licenses that Apple struck with other companies. Grewal barred GBT from introducing a new damages expert given the case’s advanced stage. But he allowed McKool Smith to present evidence about damages through fact witnesses.

In his opening statement for Apple, Timothy Teter of Cooley told jurors that GBT’s patent has not been infringed by Apple and is also invalid because the patent examiner failed to consider a key patent that had already been issued.

Teter bristled at the idea that Apple would agree to a hefty license with GBT, a company it had never competed with. He insisted that the underlying patent’s contributions to the field were minimal.

“This patent simply does not have value to Apple,” Teter said. “Apple does not need this patent to sell iPads or iPhones.”

Contact the reporter jlove@alm.com.