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A month-long patent infringement trial in August 2006 between Japan’s Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. had the makings of a painfully complex ordeal for jury and judge: A late-summer slog through brain-numbing minutiae of computer circuitry.

Much was at stake in the Trenton, N.J., federal courtroom. Matsushita, which labels its products Panasonic, sought at least $300 million in damages. It also sought an injunction barring Samsung, the world’s largest manufacturer of the most common form of computer memory, from selling those products in the United States. The devices are called dynamic random access memory, or DRAM. Although Matsushita had left the DRAM business in 1999, it alleged that Samsung’s DRAM contained technology covered by Matsushita patents.

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