SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Samsung cannot subpoena Apple to hand over evidence for a patent case the Korean tech giant is fighting in Japan, a federal judge ruled.
Samsung had requested documents concerning Apple's iPhone sales before June 29, 2007, as well as examples of an actual iPhone device before that date. It also demanded the iPhones that Steve Jobs used at MacWorld 2007 and those used in a guide video posted on Apple's website that same year.
Though Samsung is involved in two smartphone patent cases in U.S. District Court, it sought te documents and devices in question for parallel patent litigation pending in Tokyo.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal noted Wednesday that Samsung's request may have been an attempt to circumvent the requirements of the Japanese court.
"In an effort to prevent entanglement in the foreign dispute between the parties and out of respect for the Japanese tribunal before which a parallel request is currently pending, the court DENIES Samsung's request for the discovery WITHOUT PREJUDICE to a renewed request after the Tokyo district court has had an opportunity to decide the exact same request before it," Grewal wrote.
Grewal said Supreme Court precedent describes four factors for such cases: (1) whether the requested material is within the foreign tribunal's jurisdictional reach; (2) the nature and receptivity of foreign tribunals to discovery taken in the U.S.; (3) whether the request is an attempt to get around foreign proof-gathering restrictions; and (4) whether the subpoena is unreasonably burdensome.
Grewal was neutral about whether the Japanese court would be receptive to foreign discovery, but found the first and third factors weighed against Samsung's request.
"The fourth factor in fact is the only factor supporting discovery, and the fact that this same request currently is pending before the Japanese court further counsels against granting discovery at this time," he wrote. "Once the Japanese court has issued its decision, Samsung may move for new consideration of its discovery requests."