SAN JOSE (CN) – A federal judge has sanctioned Samsung Electronics for violating discovery orders involving internal design and marketing documents in patent litigation with Apple.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal ordered that Apple be made whole for the costs of persuading the court late last year that Samsung had not complied with orders to share internal design and marketing documents.
Apple accused Samsung in April 2011 of selling knockoff smartphones and tablet computers that “slavishly copy” iPhone and iPad products.
“The scale of Samsung’s production and the burden placed on it by the compressed case schedule and the numerous claims at issue are not in doubt,” Grewal wrote in granting, in part, Apple’s request for sanctions. “That burden, however, does not negate Samsung’s obligation to comply with no fewer than two court orders specifying the production of documents that reference Apple’s products claimed to embody the features and designs at issue.”
Apple’s initial motion to compel said that plenty of time was needed before trial to translate from Korean to English the internal documents Apple claimed would trace Samsung’s design decisions and Samsung’s analysis of Apple’s designs.
Samsung will pay the attorney fees and expenses Apple incurred in its effort to see the documents because, according to Grewal’s Monday order, “Samsung’s belated production of these documents directly contradicts counsel’s multiple representations to this court that the type of documents Apple sought did not exist. Even more troubling is Samsung failure to address the inaccuracy of these earlier representations to the court.”
Grewal’s December order said Samsung would face sanctions if it failed to immediately hand over “emails and documents showing Samsung’s analysis of and consideration of Apple’s products” and “survey and marketing documents.”
The order required Samsung to “complete its production immediately and, in any event, no later than December 31, 2011.”
Samsung filed documents in opposition, claiming it had substantially complied and that “Samsung faced monumental obstacles in its discovery efforts, including a drastically compressed time-frame caused by Apple’s desire for a quick trial, sweepingly broad discovery demands from Apple that were served at the very last minute, foreign language translation issues, complicated decryption and technical issues, and logistical issues in connection with moving vast amounts of data halfway across the world.”
Grewal, ruling in a case over which U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh presides, rejected Apple’s bid for fees and expenses from its failed attempt to gain a preliminary injunction to stop Samsung from selling smartphones and tablet computers.
“The court would have to engage in rank speculation to determine the effect, if any, of the belatedly produced documents on the merits of Apple’s preliminary injunction motion,” Grewal wrote.
Grewal added that because “Apple’s analysis of Samsung’s compliance with the September 28 Order and the parties’ meet-and-confer efforts were part and parcel of both sides’ ongoing litigation efforts, Apple shall not collect fees related to those activities.”
Judge Koh last week ordered the CEOs and general counsels of both companies to meet in a settlement conference before a trial scheduled for late July.
Michael Jacobs, Harold McElhinny, Jason Bartlett and Grant Kim with Morrison & Foerster represent Apple.
Samsung is represented by Charles Verhoeven, Victoria Maroulis and Kevin P.B. Johnson, with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.