Sometimes, the subject of a trial comes to haunt everyone in a courtroom.

A few days ago, during the carefully watched Apple-Samsung case – now underway in a San Jose, California federal courtroom – something was going wrong with the connectivity.

It would just have been annoying if it were not for the fact that the whole case relates to smartphone technology and who infringed on whose patents. Billions of dollars could be at stake.

But because of drains on the connectivity the court had to put up a sign on a door to Courtroom 1. It simply requested, “Please turn off all cell phones.”

Too many cell phones were being used and it impacted the Wi-Fi access. The Wi-Fi connection got so bad that a transcription system was no longer working properly. District Court Judge Lucy Koh and attorneys from Apple and Samsung could not see the real-time text displayed in front of them.

The court routinely allows for the use of laptops and offers a free Wi-Fi network. But early this week Koh had to ask for everyone’s cell phones to be turned off. But one hotspot was not turned off. “It was an SK Telecom roaming device from South Korea, likely used by a member of Samsung’s team,” according to a report from PC World. Later, it was turned off.

The next day, Koh saw another violator of the new policy. “You. Ma’am. You in the front row,” she told a representative from Apple during a break in the legal proceedings. The person was using her cell phone, and had to identify herself; she said she would no longer use the phone in the courtroom, PC World reports.

At one point, lawyers for Apple and Samsung offered the idea of putting in a cable connection between the transcription system computers and the courthouse’s network. It could be done during a preplanned two-day recess. As of the middle of the week, the connection had been yet to be installed, news reports said.

Problems continue to take place with the transcription screens. The trial, nevertheless, continues.

This week, Samsung marketing executives and Google engineers familiar with the Android operating system were to testify in the case. Last week, Apple finished presenting its case, with its witnesses saying Samsung should pay about $2.2 billion for alleged infringement of five Apple software patents, according to InsideCounsel. In response, Samsung says Apple should pay it about $6.9 million for infringing on two of its patents.


Further reading:

Apple-Samsung patent dispute trial continues

Apple/Samsung feud delves into the origins of touchscreen patents

Will U.S. patent reform take place this spring or continue to be delayed?