The bitter patent infringement court fight going on now between Apple and Samsung escalated July 31 when Samsung's attorneys publicly released design information about one of the company's mobile phone models that was previously blocked from the jury by the court.
The release of the information via email to several news media outlets covering the case angered Apple attorneys, who said they planned to file an emergency motion to ask the judge in the case to sanction Samsung in the proceedings, according to a story in The Los Angeles Times.
"The controversy stems from Samsung's decision Tuesday to send the media, including The (Los Angeles] Times, links to evidence that was previously blocked by U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh in the companies' patent infringement trial," the story reported. "Along with the links, Samsung sent a brief statement saying the excluded evidence 'would have established beyond doubt' that Samsung did not copy the iPhone and ending with: 'Fundamental fairness requires that the jury decide the case based on all the evidence.'"
The statement sent out to the media from Samsung attorney John Quinn detailed specific design information that had been blocked from the courtroom, according to the paper. "The Judges exclusion of evidence on independent creation meant that even though Apple was allowed to inaccurately argue to the jury that the [Samsung phone model] F700 was an iPhone copy, Samsung was not allowed to tell the jury the full story and show the pre-iPhone design for that and other phones that were in development at Samsung in 2006, before the iPhone," the statement said. "The excluded evidence would have established beyond doubt that Samsung did not copy the iPhone design. Fundamental fairness requires that the jury decide the case based on all the evidence."
Apple's attorneys pounced on Samsung's move, arguing that the information release was a ploy to get it noticed by the jurors when they are away from the courtroom despite the judge's order.
"Samsung's multiple references to the jury in its statement make plain its intent that the jurors in our case learn of arguments the court has excluded through the press," wrote Apple attorney William F. Lee in a two-page letter to the judge, according to The Times. "This deliberate attempt to influence the trial with inadmissible evidence is both improper and unethical."
Apple's sanction request asks Koh to issue a judgment in favor of Apple in the case, which would find "Apple's phone-design patent claims valid and infringed by Samsung," according to a story by Bloomberg News.
The trial between Apple and Samsung opened July 30 in Koh's San Jose, Calif., courtroom after a two-year-long and very public trail of allegations, counter-allegations and patent-infringement claims from both sides.
The trial could potentially affect the kinds of mobile devices that are available to consumers and enterprise buyers in the mobile marketplace, so its implications are notable.
Apple alleges that Samsung outwardly infringed on many of its patents in Apple's iPhone line to incorporate the same ideas in Samsung products, while Samsung argues that that its designs are its own, based on ideas that the company had prior to the introduction of the iPhone. Samsung also alleges that Apple is trying to prevent competition in the marketplace by attacking competitors with unfair patent claims.
Apple is seeking more than $2.5 billion in damages from Samsung for alleged infringement of its smartphone patents, while Samsung is seeking damages amounting to 2.4 percent of Apple's sales for alleged infringement of Samsung patents.
Already the legal proceedings between Apple and Samsung have been affecting consumers since sales of Samsung's Galaxy 10.1 Tab tablet computers were banned in the United States on June 26 by a California court, pending the results of this trial. In the earlier case, the judge ordered an injunction to stop the sales of the Galaxy 10.1 devices in response to a motion from Apple, which alleged that the devices copied technologies held by Apple patents. That injunction followed similar legal battles between Apple and Samsung involving courts in Germany, South Korea, Japan, Great Britain and Australia.
In June, Apple upgraded its patent-infringement lawsuit against Samsung to include the Galaxy 10.1 tablet. Apple alleges that the product violates its intellectual-property rights.
The Apple-Samsung legal fight is not your typical intellectual-property battle because, while the companies are fighting in court in public, they actually do a fair amount of business together behind the scenes. Apple remains a major purchaser of components from Samsung, which is only too happy to take Apple's money.