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Samsung attacks Apple in court for destroying, tampering with evidence

August 7, 2012

With just a few days to go until the U.S. Apple vs Samsung patent case kicked off, Samsung was awarded yet another unfavorable verdict in the region, as a Magistrate Judge granted Apple an “adverse inference” motion against the Korean company, which means that the jury had to be informed that Samsung destroyed evidence that may have been favorable to Apple in the case.

Apple’s motion referred to Samsung’s email system which auto-deletes internal emails after a certain time in order to prevent unwanted leaks – we’ll note that the system doesn’t really work, since Samsung’s products are leaked more often than not. Specifically, the emails that Apple would have wanted to use in court may have contained discussions between Samsung employees regarding the design changes suffered by the Galaxy Tab 10.1 after the iPad 2 was unveiled – the Galaxy Tab 10.1 that Samsung eventually shipped was significantly different from the 10-inch device the company unveiled at MWC 2011, a few weeks ahead of the iPad 2 press event.

Moreover, this was Samsung’s second time in which it was found to have failed to preserve emails due to its internal email system. As for its U.S. case against Apple, this was Samsung’s fourth penalty in the trial.

But it looks like its lawyers are now firing back, accusing Apple to have also destroyed and tampered with evidence that could have benefited Samsung in the trial.

The Tampering of Evidence Thing

The Verge reports that Samsung accused Apple of tampering with some of the icons of one of its phones – we showed you yesterday the similarities between some default iPhone app icons and icons for their corresponding Android apps on Samsung Galaxy-branded devices.

Samsung lawyers focused on the Epic 4G Touch (Sprint’s Galaxy S2 version) and said that Apple tampered with the icon layout. Samsung’s lawyer showed that a picture of the handset taken last night reveals a different layout on the handset, “with a larger number of home screens.”

Judge Lucy Koh, who’s presiding over the case, and has warned both parties when ruling on earlier motions to stop with the mind-games, then qusestioned the legitimacy of Samsung’s own photo:

She pointed out the Samsung’s image didn’t feature the Google search widget — something the company’s attorneys said was present on the device out of the box. “Why does your homescreen not show the Google search box when you’re telling me the phone has the Google search box,” she asked, eventually demanding to just see the device in question herself. She then pointed out that Samsung’s image featured yesterday’s date — clearly indicating that the photo had not been taken on Sunday as alleged. Samsung’s attorney eventually admitted he misspoke about the date.

Judge Koh then asked Apple lawyers if they have tampered with the icon and after Apple answered with a simple “no,” she overruled Samsung’s objection. The Judge also decided that from now on, “both parties will have to agree together in advance on any images used for joint exhibits.”

The Destroying of Evidence Thing

Samsung also accused Apple that it has deleted email of its own, and that the iPhone maker should also be admonished for its actions. Samsung’s lawyers feel that the emails Apple turned in are not enough and believe that Apple destroyed emails. CNET notes:

The maker of the Galaxy mobile products wrote to Koh that it received only 66 e-mails from Apple for the period between August 2010 and April 2011.
“Apple produced zero Steve Jobs e-mails from the key August 2010 to April 2011 period (and 51 e-mails overall from Jobs),” Samsung said in the documents. “The company received 9 e-mails from Mr. [Jonathan] Ive (45 overall) from that period. These are absolutely critical witnesses — it is inconceivable that Mr. Jobs, CEO of Apple during a portion of the relevant time period and inventor of the ‘949, ‘678, D’087, D’677, D’270, D’889, D’757 and D’678 patents, actually had so few e-mails on issues in this case and none between August 2010 and April 2011.”

Samsung argues that Apple has only turned in evidence starting with April 2011 – which is when Apple sued Samsung for the first time, while Samsung had to preserve evidence dating back to August 2010.

On its part, Apple says that it doesn’t have an automated email deletion system, and, since Apple was already involved in other patent-based cases at the time it sued Samsung, its executives were already told they have to keep emails.

A verdict on this matter is not available at this time.

We’ll be back with more Apple vs Samsung details in the future, as there are plenty hidden details left to discover for both companies.