Apple’s ongoing patent infringement cases with Samsung Electronics are old news by now. In fact, it seems like Proview took the hot seat in recent months with their trademark lawsuit regarding the name, “iPad.” Today, the patent pot has been stirred again. Network World recently discovered that Apple is accusing Samsung of destroying documentation that could be relevant to their case in an effort to show that the latter is intentionally infringing on Apple’s patents.
According to Network World, Apple filed a motion on May 1 in the Northern District of California, claiming that Samsung intentionally destroyed documents that the company was legally required to produce as part of the discovery process. The motion is called, “spoliation of evidence.”
If the judge in the case finds that Samsung practiced spoliation of evidence, he will instruct the jury as follows:
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.”
Apple has accused Samsung of deleting emails that are pertinent to their case by calling attention to the fact that the company has been sanctioned previously for doing the same thing. A prior lawsuit between Samsung and Mosaid Technologies shows that the Korea-based company has an ongoing policy of automatically deleting emails from custodian computers every two weeks, even in the midst of lawsuits where emails were part of evidence gathering. Samsung has not stopped its automatic email deletion policy.
According to the motion, Apple claims that the policy has adversely affected their case and points to a specific email that they are aware of as missing evidence.
Judge Grewal recently compelled the deposition of Won Pyo Hong, the head of Samsung’s Product Strategy Team, in part due to an email in which Dr.Hong “directly orders side-by-side comparisons of Apple and Samsung products for design presentations.”
Apple and the Court cannot possibly know how many more emails Dr. Hong sent or received that would have supported Apple’s claims that Samsung copied Apple products had they not been deleted. The same is true for the many other Samsung witnesses who produced only a handful of emails, or none at all.
Apparently, Samsung has been hiding or destroying evidence in other cases as well. The company was investigated by the Korean Fair Trade Commission and was accused by the organization of “purposefully destroying a large amount of data” while a price fixing investigation was taking place. In a press release the Korean Fair Trade Commission stated that high-level executives instructed security personnel to physically block the government organization from entering the building while employees destroyed relevant data and replaced the computers of those employees who were subject to the investigation.
The motion is scheduled to be heard in court on June 10 and Samsung’s response to the motion is due by May 15. The company has requested an extension on its deadline to reply to May 29, as well as to push back the hearing until July 10. Apple is saying that Samsung doesn’t need the extra time since the company filed a similar reply during an International Trade Commission investigation.
It looks like Samsung is in hot water. If the judge in this case finds that the company practiced spoliation of evidence, it could mean their defense won’t mean squat to the jury.