Apple-Samsung Judge 'Livid' Over Document Disclosure
After judge refused to admit slides as evidence, Samsung attorney releases them to reporters in effort to show Apple borrowed iPhone concepts from Sony.
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The judge in the Apple vs. Samsung Electronics case is reportedly "livid" after an attorney for Apple said Tuesday that Samsung had issued a "press release" airing evidence that could not be admitted at the patent infringement trial in San Jose U.S. District Court.
Samsung attorney John Quinn said Wednesday said he didn't issue a press release. He authorized a response to specific queries from the press. News of the move was aired on the BBC in the United Kingdom, where Apple and Samsung are also suing each other. Needless to say, the actions of the British press are beyond the jurisdiction of San Jose, Calif.'s decisive Judge Lucy H. Koh.
Quinn said his actions were "lawful, ethical, and fully consistent with the relevant California Rules of Professional Responsibility" for attorneys.
Koh has ruled over the trial with a firm hand and had three times previously refused Samsung's request to include as evidence a set of Samsung PowerPoint graphics. The slides cite comments from an interview with Apple designer Shin Nishibori that he had come up with an iPhone design by studying examples of Sony's Walkman design concepts. He said he was commissioned by Jonathan Ive, Apple's head of industrial design, to determine "if Sony were to make an iPhone, what would it be like?"
Samsung produced the information after evidentiary hearings had already been held to decide what documents would be included in the trial.
As an example of how important the document is to Samsung, one of its lead attorneys, John Quinn, managing partner of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, rose and addressed the court just before the start of Tuesday's proceedings--without waiting for Judge Koh's permission to do so. He implored the judge to reconsider admitting the document, since it was central to Samsung's case that producing a device shaped like an iPhone wasn't automatically copying Apple. The Samsung graphic purports to document that the design idea was already resident in several design groups, including Sony's.
Koh was having none of it, however. Quinn persisted. "In 36 years of trial work, I have never begged the court for anything. I'm begging the court now to reconsider." Koh responded that the matter was already settled and wouldn't be reopened. When Quinn persisted, she threatened him with misconduct. As he tried to talk over her response, she said: "I want you to sit down please. Please don't make me sanction you." The managing partner sat.
Koh is a believer in formal proceedings and would later Tuesday chastise members of Samsung's platoon of lawyers for coming and going during Apple's opening statement. As Samsung began its statement, she announced that attorneys inside the courtroom would stay inside, and those outside would stay outside. When informed by an Apple attorney, apparently after the close of regular proceedings, that Samsung had aired the evidence anyway, in what Apple called "an attempt to pollute the jury," Koh reportedly was angry.
She demanded an explanation of who authorized the release of the information. Quinn responded Wednesday morning that he had. No press release was issued, he said, rather "a brief statement" accompanied by slides about Shin had been made available through a link online to certain members of the press. (The link to the published documents was disabled or quit working a few hours after it was announced.)
Quinn attached the statement and slides to his response to the judge. It remains to be seen whether they will enter the trial record by this unconventional route. Quinn said his sharing of documents was not an attempt to influence jurors because it happened after the jury had already been instructed not to do research on its own or consult information coming from outside the courtroom.
Quinn then raised his own indignant voice in response to the Apple attorney's description of his action.
"Contrary to the representations Apple's counsel made to this court, Samsung did not issue a general press release and, more importantly, did not violate any court order or any legal or ethical standards. These false representations by Apple's counsel publicly and unfairly called my personal reputation into question and have resulted in media reports likewise falsely impugning me personally," he wrote in his response to the judge.
He continued: "Far from violating any order, Samsung's transmission to the public of public information disclosed in pretrial filings is entirely consistent with this court's statements--made in denying both parties' requests to seal documents--that '[t]he United States district court is a public institution, and the workings of litigation must be open to public view. Pretrial submissions are a part of the trial," he wrote, citing a court decision on that issue.
Quinn then used Koh's own words to justify his action: "Indeed, the court has told the parties that 'the whole trial is going to be open.' The court repeated these sentiments on July 20, 2012, noting 'the plethora of media and general public scrutiny' of these proceedings and stating that '[t]he public has a significant interest in these court filings.'"
Koh is likely to have something to say about this interpretation of her words, as well as Quinn's action.
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