Samsung Shows Courtroom to Witnesses, Breaks Court Rules

Samsung Shows Courtroom to Witnesses

Samsung has again run afoul of court rules in its patent infringement trial with Apple, this time by bringing a group of the company’s witnesses to the courtroom while it was unoccupied, according to documents reviewed by FOSS Patents. The unsupervised visit, argued by Samsung to be necessary for its foreign witnesses who were unfamiliar with American courtrooms, is the latest in a series of steps that have brought the court’s ire upon the Korean company.

Christopher Stretch, one of the many outside attorneys representing Samsung in its legal battle, admitted in a sworn declaration to bringing “five Samsung prospective witnesses, accompanied by two interpreters, and three Samsung in-house attorneys” to see the Ceremonial Courtroom, where the trial is taking place, last Thursday.

Mr. Stretch explained that “none [of them] had ever seen the inside of a United States District Courthouse before” and since he “could not take them to the courthouse while trial is in session because of the parties’ agreement that fact witnesses may not be present in court before they give testimony,” he took them to the room while court was not in session.

Unfortunately for Mr. Stretch and his guests, the room was locked when they arrived. After speaking with someone in Judge Fogel’s chambers (Judge Koh is the presiding judge for the trial), and presenting themselves as “friends” of yet another judge, Judge Breyer, the group was let into the courtroom where they spent approximately ten minutes unsupervised.

Mr. Stretch claims that he was “unaware of any prohibition against visiting the Ceremonial Courtroom while trial was not in session” and that, if he had known of such a prohibition, he would not have done it.

Both Apple and the Court are understandably concerned about Samsung’s breach of court rules, whether intentional or not. However, Mr. Stretch claims that his guests only wanted to see the courtroom and that none of them “touched any equipment or materials” nor, as far as he is aware, took any photographs.

Last Thursday’s unauthorized courtroom visit came just days after Samsung narrowly escaped court sanctions for defying Judge Koh’s orders not to release evidence that had already been excluded. After repeatedly requesting permission to introduce the evidence, which Samsung claims shows Sony had an “iPhone-like” phone in development before the public unveiling of the iPhone, Samsung’s PR department released the information to the press, drawing sharp words and threats of sanctions from Judge Koh.

Apple and Samsung are locked in a legal battle over mobile patents responsible for the iPhone and Samsung smartphones. Apple claims Samsung owes $2.5 billion for infringing the Cupertino company’s iPhone patents while Samsung argues that it is Apple who has infringed and is seeking 2.4 percent of all iPhone sales.

[Teaser graphic via Shutterstock]