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Apple wants the jury to know that Samsung destroyed evidence

August 1, 2012

The U.S. Apple vs Samsung legal odyssey continues today with new developments in one of the most important patent-based cases in the world right now. It’s not just a fight between titans, between business partners, between closed and open ecosystems, but also a battle that could have decisive consequences on the future of the mobile ecosystem.

The trial started on Monday with jury selection, and we saw yesterday the opening arguments from both Apple and Samsung. Each party is accusing the other of violating its patents, with Apple claiming Samsung has copied the look and feel of its iPhone and iPad and with Samsung saying that Apple is infringing various of its 3G patents.

The trial will last for at least four weeks, and we’re bound to see more interesting things emerge from this fight.

Earlier today, we showed you pieces of evidence from Samsung’s case, which were not allowed to be used in court. Therefore, Samsung’s legal counsel released them to the media, annoying the judge in the process. Consequently, Samsung’s attorneys had to formally explain why they leaked those documents, which they did earlier today.

Now we hear that Apple wants the jury in the case, formed by nine members that have to unanimously agree on each claim presented in the case, to know that Samsung destroyed evidence relevant to the case. According to Apple, this sort of thing happened not just once, but twice so far in Samsung’s legal war history.

A few days ago a judge found Samsung to have wrongly destroyed email correspondence between Samsung employees, which could have been used in courts by Apple:

Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal agreed that Samsung wronged Apple when the company “continued throughout this case automatically to delete e-mails.”
Grewal also wrote that Samsung “kept the shredder on long after it should have known about this litigation and simply trusted its custodial employees to save relevant” e-mails.
Grewal found that “Samsung ‘consciously disregarded’ its obligation to preserve relevant evidence.”

The judge issued an “adverse inference jury instruction,” which Samsung is contesting. The Android device maker is asking Judge Lucy Koh, presiding over the U.S. Apple vs Samsung case, not to reveal the instruction to jurors.

But, apparently this isn’t the first time Samsung was found to withhold evidence in such a manner. In a different patent case dating back to 2004, a district court in New Jersey “issued adverse inference instructions against Samsung because it never flipped the ‘off switch on its… automatic computer e-mail policy [that] allowed e-mails to be deleted.”

Apple basically argues that Samsung failed to preserve emails from the files of Lee Min-hyuk, the main designer of Galaxy S handsets:

“Relevant e-mails once existed.” Apple’s lawyers say they know this because Samsung produced 75 of them dated after Lee received a document-retention notice and because other “custodians” of the e-mails preserved them.

On that note, we close another small chapter in this complex battle, but we’ll be back with more details in the following days.