Friday, August 03, 2012

Judge denies Apple request for sanctions against Samsung after evidence leak

U.S. District Court judge Lucy Koh was none too pleased with Samsung's intentional leak of evidence that had been blocked in its contentious court battle with Apple, currently underway. In it's first real response in the matter, Apple has asked Koh to show Samsung who's boss, by summarily deciding the patent lawsuit in their favor.

Apple filed a letter with the courts on Thursday asserting that simply fining Samsung would be insufficient punishment.

Apple offered two scenarios for redress, one of which was to decided the court case in Apple's favor:

“The proper remedy for Samsung’s misconduct is judgment that Apple’s asserted phone design patents are valid and infringed. Through its extraordinary actions yesterday, 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. 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.”

In other words, let's not bother with the trials, instead punishing Samsung by deciding the issue in Apple's favor.

The other "suggestion" Apple made was to make absolutely sure the jury was aware of Samsung's leak to the press.

"In the alternative, and at a minimum, the Court should (i) instruct the jury that Samsung engaged in serious misconduct and that, as a result, the Court has made a finding that Samsung copied the asserted designs and features from Apple products; and (ii) preclude Samsung from further mentioning or proffering any evidence regarding the 'Sony design exercise' for any purpose."

That seems along the same lines, however. "Suggestion" two would have the court instruct the jurors that the court has already decided the matter in Apple's favor. It's hard to see how jurors would themselves then decide the case in any other way.

Both of these "suggestions" were dismissed by Koh. In a brief ruling filed Thursday night, Koh approved Samsung's motion to strike Apple's sanction request; she also refused to rule in Apple's favor and find that Apple's patents were valid and infringed.

Although what Samsung did was certainly not kosher, the evidence it sent to media earlier in the week had been pretty well circulated, even prior to that step.

Samsung won one battle in the case, but the war is still up-for-grabs. The company also continues to see evidence it wants admitted struck down by Koh.

In a somewhat movie-centric issue, Koh denied Samsung's request to reference films such as "2001: A Space Odyssey" and the TV series "Tomorrow People." Samsung had used a reference to a scene in "2001," to claim that rectangular tablets existed long before the first iPad's debut in 2010. A 2011 Samsung filings (video embedded) noted that, in the film, "two astronauts are eating and at the same time using personal computer tablets."

Koh dismissed the evidence, saying that when the Korean giant first referenced the film, it did so as a "general discussion point" and failed to say that it intended to use the film to demonstrate that Apple's patents were invalid. Koh wrote,

"That Samsung changed tack after the close of fact discovery to include these references in their invalidity theories likely prejudiced Apple, who was not made aware during the preliminary injunction proceeding that Samsung intended to rely on these two prior art references for invalidity.

Koh excluded the 1994 Fidler tablets and the Compaq TC1000 from evidence or the same reason.

The Apple-Samsung patent trial (the U.S. version) continues.

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