Apple Accuses Samsung of Destroying & Withholding Evidence

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Apple has accused rival and partner Samsung of destroying and withholding evidence in their epic patent infringement battle. In court documents found by NetworkWorld, Apple filed a motion asking Judge Lucy Koh to penalize Samsung by issuing “spoiliation inference” instructions to the jury, instructions that could severely hurt Samsung and help Apple.

According to Apple, Samsung intentionally destroyed documents that the South Korea-based electronics giant was obligated to preserve because of the litigation between the companies. This is a very serious charge for Apple to levy, but according to the heavily redacted motion viewed by NetworkWorld, Apple said that Samsung has a history of such practices.

TMO Artist's Rendition of Samsung

TMO Artist’s Rendition of Samsung

Apple pointed to an investigation in South Korea by the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC). As part of that investigation, the KFTC issued a press release accusing Samsung of having security personnel physically block investigators from entering an office while documents were destroyed, computers were replaced, and emails were deleted.

“Samsung employees from the department subject to the investigation destroyed relevant data and replaced the computers of those employees who were subject to investigation,” the KFTC wrote in its release.

Apple has also already leveled a similar accusation against Samsung with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) relating to a different patent dispute.

Back in Judge Lucy Koh’s Federal District Court, Apple is accusing Samsung of engaging in this behavior again, and withholding documents that Apple says would prove its claims that Samsung willfully infringed on its patents.

To offer a specific example, Apple said that the above-mentioned KFTC investigation in Korea uncovered a 2011 email to one of Samsung’s executive vice presidents that allegedly discussed the deletion of files regarding “Korean roadmap iPhone countermeasures,” as well as other data.

Samsung did not produce this email when subpoenaed by Apple in this court case, and Apple said this was an example of Samsung withholding a document it was obligated to both preserve and produce.

For its part, Samsung has dismissed Apple’s charges as baseless, and the firm has also asked for an extension for when it must respond to Apple’s motion for spoiliation inference instructions.

If Judge Koh finds in favor of Apple’s motion, she could take any of the following actions, as noted by NetworkWorld:

  1. Samsung had a duty to preserve relevant evidence, failed to do so, and acted in bad faith in failing to meet its legal duty.

  2. The jury may infer that documents Samsung failed to produce would have been advantageous to Apple’s position.

  3. If the jury finds Samsung liable for infringement, they may presume that the infringement was “intentional, willful, without regard to Apple’s rights.”

These would all be very serious remedies that would likely benefit Apple in the case.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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3 Comments

wab95

Love the graphic, Bryan. You can almost hear the ‘Nyanh-nyanh-ny-nyanh-nyanh!’

My feeling with these infringement cases is that courts, with or without juries, are taking a softly softly approach to corporate IP theft where potentially millions of innocent customers stand to be dispossessed of their product and service access, and where the rival is clearly doing well despite the theft of its IP. Anyone born prior to the launch of the iPhone, not to mention the iPad, knows that Apple set the standard for smartphones and tablets, and that these devices changed after the iPhone was introduced.

The courts, I believe, are still unlikely to punish convicted infringers (and may even go soft on conviction except in the most egregious cases where damage has been done to the innovator) simply to avoid punishing the clients - not unlike what happened with RIM when the Blackberry reigned supreme.

I have low expectations for this going anywhere, and expect Judge Koh to find a way around this allegation and continue towards a settlement between parties.

ibuck

The allegations that Samsung has destroyed and withheld evidence, as well as copied Apple’s proprietary designs and specifications while entrusted to manufacture Apple goods, leaves the impression of Samsung as a company without integrity. As someone considering the purchase of a new TV, this considerably dampens any enthusiasm I might have about Samsung products, their reliability and their customer service.  Since there are other highly rated brands competing with Samsung, I will strongly consider those before any Samsung model.

I just wonder if Samsung execs ever considered such customer backlash.

iJack

If the judge agrees with Apple, she will instruct the jury, and can say either one of two things; the jury may infer that Samsung had “consciousness of guilt,” or that the jury shall infer that Samsung had consciousness of guilt.  Either of those, and Samsung is screwed, but if it’s the latter, Samsung are royally screwed.

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