Raising the stakes in the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Samsung over copycat accusations involving mobile devices, Samsung is upping the ante by asking to depose Apple’s iPhone designers, including Apple’s leading industrial design guru Jonathan Ive.

According to Josh Rosenthall of Edible Apple, depositions of Apple’s iPhone inventors Jonathan Ive, Douglas Satzger, Shin Nishibori and Christopher Stringer “will be taking place relatively soon” and ahead of the expedited trial between Apple and Samsung in the United States, scheduled for July 30, 2012.

According to Samsung’s motion, none of the aforementioned designers will be able to sit for deposition for various reasons. In the case of Jony Ive, the motion mentions “personal reasons”. Ive is especially important in this case. Jobs’s spiritual partner, it is said that no one could tell Ive what to do, at least until Jobs resigned. According to Jobs’s authorized biographer Walter Isaacson:

He called Jonathan Ive, Apple’s design chief, his “spiritual partner” at Apple. He told Isaacson that Ive had “more operation power” at Apple than anyone besides Jobs himself — that there’s no one at the company who can tell Ive what to do. That, says Jobs, is “the way I set it up.”

As such, Ive is the holder of Apple’s many secrets and inner workings, something Samsung is legitimately hoping to exploit ahead of the trial. And while Apple’s design guru really needs no introduction, here’s a brief overview of the others.

Doug Satzger is a 12-year Apple veteran in color materials and finishes, is now presumably an Hewlett-Packard employee. Shin Nishibori and Christopher Stringer appear on many Apple patents related to iPods, Macs, iOS devices and retail packaging.

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