Apple Wants to See Samsung Skewered for Evidence Leak
Having been denied the opportunity to show jurors evidence the company said would exonerate it from Apple's accusations of patent infringement, Samsung turned to the court of public opinion, leaking the documents to the press. Apple's attorneys called that a clear attempt to sway the jury, and they want to see Samsung burn for it.
Apple has insisted that the judge presiding over its patent trial against Samsung should punish the Galaxy phone maker for its decision to leak to the public evidence excluded from the proceedings.
Samsung tried to enter evidence in its trial with Apple that Samsung claims shows it was working on iPhone-like prototypes before Apple introduced its smartphone. Federal district court judge Lucy Koh, though, excluded the evidence from the proceedings. It was submitted too late in the discovery process, she ruled.
Determined to have the evidence see the light of day, Samsung's attorneys released it to the press.
Even though Apple was allowed to argue to the jury that a the Samsung F700 was an iPhone copy, Samsung was not allowed to tell the jury the full story and show the pre-iPhone design for that and other phones that were in development at Samsung in 2006, before the iPhone was publicly debuted, according to Samsung. Fundamental fairness, the company added, requires that the jury decide the case based on all the evidence.
Severe Sanctions Sought
Following Samsung's action, Apple sent a letter to Judge Koh asking her to impose severe sanctions on the South Korean company for its defiance of the court. "The proper remedy for Samsung's misconduct is judgment that Apple's asserted phone design patents are valid and infringed," Apple wrote to the court.
"Through its extraordinary actions yesterday," it continued, "Samsung sought to sway the jury on the design patent issues, and the proper remedy is to enter judgment against Samsung on those same patents."
"It would be, to be sure, a significant sanction," Apple acknowledged. "But serious misconduct can only be cured through a serious sanction -- and here, Samsung's continuing and escalating misconduct merits a severe penalty that will establish that Samsung is not above the law."
Apple did not respond to our request for further comment.
"Apple's filing is baseless and we will be filing a response," Samsung spokesperson Mira Jang told MacNewsWorld.
Frustration Fogging Thinking?
Samsung's reaction to what it sees as bedeviling behavior by Koh is risky conduct, according to intellectual property analyst Florian Mueller. "I strongly suspect that Samsung is venting frustration over various decisions including the two preliminary injunctions Judge Koh recently granted Apple," he told MacNewsWorld.
In May, Koh granted preliminary injunctions requested by Apple to block the sale in the United States of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Nexus smartphone until the case between the two companies is settled.
"But this is also a tactical game," Mueller added. "Samsung is playing with fire and trying to game the system. This may backfire in the end."
While Samsung's frustration is understandable, it may be getting in the way of sound legal strategy, according to Adam L.K. Philipp, an attorney with Aeon Law. "When people get frustrated they sometimes do things against their best interest," he told MacNewsWorld, "or they calculate the risks and say the marginal benefit we might get might outweigh the rage that the judge might have."
Public Relations War
Nevertheless, Philipp recommended that rather than subverting the court, Samsung's legal team should be getting its ducks lined up for an appeal. "It's never good to subvert the court," he said.
"Most patent cases revolve around setting things up for the real court case, which is in the appeal, when the professionals who actually understand the issues and understand the technology get things set up properly."
Samsung's move, however, may have been more calculated than emotional, contends Michael Lasky, a patent attorney for Burr & Forman. "If Samsung wins the public relations war but loses the case, it still wins," he told MacNewsWorld.
"If the public believes Samsung is getting beat up over something it shouldn't -- and they'll draw that conclusion from what they read in the press, not what happens in court -- that's not a good outcome for Apple," he maintained.