In a move that undermines an already broken patent licensing system, Samsung has allegedly misused information about licensing agreements made between Apple and other companies that were divulged as a part of the Apple vs. Samsung case during 2011-2012. The licensing agreements were supposed to be kept confidential and only be used by the company’s counsel in the related litigation. Nokia and Apple are claiming Samsung executives inappropriately used the licensing information during negotiations earlier this year.
A court order has been filed in the Apple v. Samsung proceedings which describes the ethical breech and points to at least 50 Samsung employees who gained inappropriate access to the licensing information. Here is an excerpt from the order:
“Specifically, according to Mr. Melin, Dr. Ahn stated that Apple had produced the Apple-Nokia license in its litigation with Samsung, and that Samsung’s outside counsel had provided his team with the terms of the Apple-Nokia license. Mr. Melin recounts that to prove to Nokia that he knew the confidential terms of the Apple-Nokia license, Dr. Ahn recited the terms of the license, and even went so far as to tell Nokia that “all information leaks.”
The seriousness of this situation was subsequently highlighted by Judge Grewal, who is involved with the Apple v. Samsung case.
“A casual observer might reasonably wonder what magic a protective order works that allows outside counsel access to confidential information to advance the case without countenancing untoward uses by the client,” Judge Grewal writes. “The answer is not a magical one at all: confidential information remains confidential because counsel and clients alike follow court orders. If parties breach this basic rule, the court’s assurances become meaningless.”
What is Samsung’s response to these claims? They are denying knowledge and insisting that nothing be done about it. Apparently you can say whatever you want and expect people to believe you. Only time will tell if there is any solid evidence and then if there will be any resulting consequences.