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Apple vs. Samsung: Is It the Trial of the Century?

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Patent infringement cases have become almost commonplace in the global tech market, but the Apple (AAPL)-Samsung (SSNLF) trial now underway in San Jose, California is anything but common.

In its first week, the trial revealed some of Apple's product and marketing secrets which are traditionally guarded as if they were nuclear grade trade secrets. "It's not an exaggeration to compare [Apple] to the CIA or some other intelligence agency," Fortune's Adam Lashinsky told The Daily Ticker earlier this year. "They believe everything that happens inside is a secret and that pertains not just to…outsiders but also internally. They don't share their secrets [and] you're expected to mind your own business.

Samsung also defied Judge Lucy Koh this week by releasing an early design of its smartphone to the press — documents the judge explicitly excluded from the court case.

Apple is suing Samsung for $2.5 billion charging the South Korean company with copying the design and feel of its iPhone and iPad. Samsung has responded with a countersuit, seeking royalties of a half-cent for every iPhone Apple sells.

Josh Lowensohn who's been covering the trial for CNET says Apple is essentially arguing that before the iphone "Samsung was making ugly devices and aftterwards everything looked like the iPhone and the iPad."

In its July 2011 filing Apple wrote that Samsung's mobile devices not only look like Apple's iPhone and iPad but "use Apple's patented software features to interact with the user."

At the trial this week Samsung Attorney Charles Verhoeven showed phones that predated the iPhone's debut in 2007 and had a similar rectangular shape which "Apple didn't invent." He said, "Samsung is not some copyist…It's a major technology company that develops its own innovations."

At stake in this trial is who will emerge as the leader in the global smartphone and tablet market which are both growing rapidly. Currently Samsung leads the global market for smartphones—44 percent to 17 percent for Apple, according to IDC.  But Apple leads the U.S. smartphone market 31 percent to 24 percent, says NPD.

Apple also leads the global tablet market.

Which company will win the lawsuit? Lowensohn says it's too early to tell. Both companies have legitimate cases to make and huge legal teams to argue them but ultimately a jury will decide, Lowensohn says.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below or on Facebook. Will Apple or Samsung come out ahead in this trial?

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