Judge Declines to Sanction Samsung for Role in Apple-Nokia Patent License Leaks

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 30, 2014.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Last October, Apple filed a motion seeking sanctions against Samsung and its outside lawyers, accusing both of unlawfully obtaining sensitive data about Apple's 2011 patent license agreement with Nokia. Samsung responded to the allegations by filing three motions intended to slow the investigation. However, those motions were denied by Judge Lucy Koh, who also proceeded to call Samsung's lack of information about the alleged violation "inexcusable."

    Now, FOSS Patents reports that Judge Paul S. Grewal yesterday ruled against imposing sanctions on Samsung, instead choosing to solely penalize its law firm, Quinn Emanuel. By Judge Grewal's order, Quinn Emanuel will be required to reimburse Apple, Nokia, and their legal counsel for all costs and fees incurred during the litigation.

    Judge Grewal also explained why some further-reaching and more dramatic sanctions proposed by Apple and Nokia were not appropriate:
    The decision by Judge Grewal can be appealed to Judge Koh and then on to the Federal Circuit if necessary, where Apple or Nokia could attempt to win additional sanctions. Samsung cannot appeal any part of the decision further as it was not sanctioned.

    The ruling comes as a second patent infringement lawsuit between Apple and Samsung is set to begin on March 31, 2014. Notably, Samsung will only have four patents claims to bring to the upcoming trial, as Judge Koh invalidated two of its patent claims last week. Both companies will also partake in a trial centered around Apple's new call for a U.S. ban on Samsung products set for January 30.

  2. macrumors 68030


    The law firm, Quinn Emanuel paying all Apple and Nokia's legal fees, rather than the more deep-pocketed Samsung? Could be an expensive lesson for the firm. I'm guessing they'll make it up the next round.
  3. macrumors 65816

    Aug 13, 2011
    So bored of that never ending story. Just get Tim Cook and Kwon Oh Hyun into a white collar arena and let them fight over it like men.
  4. macrumors demi-god


    Jun 9, 2007
    Device engineer 30+ yrs, touchscreens 24+.
    Makes sense. It was the law firm that goofed up and FTP'd the unredacted document to Samsung's servers, where various people read it.

    Not that Judge Grewal has ever been known to favor Quinn Emanuel. He is the one who primarily denied all their prior art in the billion dollar trial, because of a technicality.
  5. macrumors 6502a


    Nov 28, 2007
    Show me the part again, where Samsung didn't illegally obtain information and then use it.

    It's not like they didn't know they weren't entitled to it.
    It's not like they unknowingly bought stolen goods from someone at the pub.

    Samsung sure gets a good run in U.S. courts. Remember everything they did to get a mistrial when they could see things weren't going their way?

    I can't see how paying costs, which are mostly imaginary, is any discouragement from offending again. Banning the lawyers and Samsung for 2 years from being in a position to offend sounded extremely lenient.

    Good to see lawyers (apparently) being brought to task for malpractice, though. Not that anybody seems to see it as anything other than the cost of doing business.
  6. macrumors 65816


    Jul 19, 2006
    The outside law firm definitely goofed up, but this would not have been a problem unless Samsung did what they did with the information. From the original MR report of this violation:

    Samsung execs knew they shouldn't have had that information. They could have chosen to act in an ethical fashion with that ill-gotten information. They did not. They bragged about having it, and used it as a negotiating tool in conversations with Nokia.

    Samsung should be punished for those actions.
  7. macrumors 6502a


    May 7, 2011
    Wow, how lame. It just doesn't seem very fair that Samsung will be getting away with this. And of course, the money to pay the law firm's penalties will come from Samsung because that's how they do business. Wasn't there a quote about how Nokia was approached with details of the Apple-Nokia licensing agreement...? Isn't that evidence enough of abuse.......?
  8. macrumors G3


    Jun 11, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    I could see them having to so that. And to me if it would be fair if they were placed on a kind of probation. Slap them with a fine that will be waived so long as they don't try to pull the same crap again. Do it and they pay for it. They do it with criminals why not with civil issues as well.
  9. macrumors 68020


    Jan 3, 2006
    Judges and prosecutors empathize with people in the legal profession, so they tend to be exceptionally lenient towards them for missteps and misjudgments, even though they do not mind ruining other people's lives for not following every letter of some obscure law. It is in human nature. If you think "oh, this could have happened to me just as easily", you tend to be a lot more forgiving.
  10. macrumors 65816

    Sep 14, 2009
    I think it has more to do with not penalizing a company (Samsung) unless you are sure that they are guilty.

    So even though we think and it's maybe likely that Samsung was doing wrong, we still have to base things on evidence in court. And since there is "insufficient evidence that this failure to notify or misuse ultimately implicated any issue in this or any other litigation or negotiation" they can't be penalized. Let's see how the appeal turns out.

  11. macrumors regular


    Jan 15, 2008
    One way to read this is that judge Grewal just made it easier for Apple and Nokia to ultimately prevail.

    By ruling against sanctions at his level of authority, Grewal paves the way for Apple/Nokia to appeal this matter to judge Koh without interference by Samsung. It is clear that Koh sees Samsung's actions for what they are and it is reasonable to think she will find in favor of Apple/Nokia.

    I will be surprised if this is the last we hear about it.
  12. macrumors 6502a


    Aug 30, 2013
    Agreed, this will be appealed and will raise it's head again.
  13. macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2009
    It does make sense to sanction the law firm. I'm sure Apple/Nokia will appeal for sanctions against Samsung though. The law firm screwed up -- Samsung just used the information they wrongfully obtained. Samsung also retained the law firm so I guess you could argue some liability there in an appeal, but ultimately this seems like an attorney being guilty of misconduct.
  14. kdarling, Jan 30, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2014

    macrumors demi-god


    Jun 9, 2007
    Device engineer 30+ yrs, touchscreens 24+.
    The above left out the second half of that quote from Judge Grewal:

    In other words, as the ruling stated throughout, the original Nokia / Apple accusations were a bit overblown.

    Most interestingly of all, the ruling notes that the document actually DID have Nokia's name redacted, but that the Samsung negotiation lawyer deduced who they were, anyway, from the amounts and currency (Euros).

    As for previous posts talking about lawyers protecting their own, it's true. The ruling decides that:

    So the Judge didn't ding the law firm for the mistake itself. He penalized them because the same junior associate who had goofed up, also realized six months later that he'd made a mistake... yet the firm didn't inform Apple then or later on.
  15. macrumors regular

    Jan 24, 2006
    This is irrelevant, if they broke the law there should be consequences, just because their action didnt affect the litigation doesnt mean they didnt break the law.
  16. macrumors demi-god


    Jun 9, 2007
    Device engineer 30+ yrs, touchscreens 24+.
    The ruling said they didn't break the law on purpose, but more because of poor organization.

    However, they failed to correct it by telling Apple. That's why they had to pay Apple's and Nokia's fees.


    The other ruling was that now they have to get Apple/Nokia approval of any redacted documents _before_ sending them anywhere.

    Which makes me wonder why that isn't the norm anyway. It would avoid all sorts of potential problems.
  17. macrumors regular


    Jan 15, 2008
    That's a great point.

    IIRC, Apple/Nokia anticipated the possibility of documents getting transmitted to Samsung (accidentally or otherwise) and that's one reason why the whole thing is so flabbergasting. In advance they sought constraints and protection while allowing for reasonable discovery.

    I'm with you, scratching my head wondering why required consent for transmitting redacted docs wasn't in place from the start?...
  18. macrumors demi-god


    Jun 9, 2007
    Device engineer 30+ yrs, touchscreens 24+.
    Oops! Apple's lawyers made an even worse mistake

    In one of the most ironic turn of events possible, it turns out that Apple's own law firm had accidentally posted all the same Nokia license details IN PUBLIC last year, and neither Apple nor Nokia noticed the mistake for several months.

    Samsung's lawyers naturally want any sanctions for their own junior associate's redaction goof, reduced appropriately, since they weren't the only ones to screw up. Moreover, their internal leak to one company wasn't as bad as Apple's law firm leak to the public.

    It's a good guess that Apple's lawyers will now see their request for extreme sanctions against Samsung's lawyers, in a totally different light :rolleyes:

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