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Judge Sanctions Samsung for Failure to Prevent Spoliation of Evidence

The long standing legal battle between Samsung and Apple is getting nastier and nastier each month. California judge sanctioned the Korean smartphone maker on Wednesday, July 25th, after it failed to prevent the loss of some evidence that could have been helpful if they were submitted in court.

Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal ruled out in favor of Apple after it requested the court for an “adverse jury instruction” in the case; the jurors will be informed that Samsung failed to comply and live up to its obligation to help preserve any sort of evidence that could be of great help for either party.

The court found that Samsung did not do anything to prevent some emails from its corporate server being automatically deleted by its system. Some of those emails are believed to be of great importance for Apple’s patent claims but could have been bad for Samsung’s own defense.

Samsung’s legal counsel has the duty to prove to the court and convince the jury that the company they are representing has not, in anyway, infringed Apple’s patents. In other words, they are desperately trying to look beautiful but it’s not what happened recently as the order of Judge Grewal suggests that Judge Lucy Koh may presume that the Cupertino-based tech giant has already met its burden of proving the following by a preponderance of the evidence;

1. That relevant evidence was destroyed after the duty to preserve arose. Evidence is relevant if it would have clarified a fact at issue in the trial and otherwise would naturally have been introduced into evidence.

2. The lost evidence was favorable to Apple.

The emails in question are greatly relevant to the issue whether Samsung willfully infringed Apple’s patents or not. While emails may not be enough to prove infringements due to the technicality of the case, it is the willfulness that’s being proven here and therefore, internal communications (i.e. emails) play a significant role.

The volume of emails lost couldn’t be determined but the problem lies in Samsung’s proprietary email system known as mySingle, used by higher executives and employees in South Korea, because there was only a handful of emails provided and majority of them couldn’t be used in court. However, some employees who have been using Microsoft’s Windows Outlook and whose systems were not managed under the protocols of mySingle were able to turn in thousands of emails.

Apparently, this is going to be a tougher fight for Samsung especially now that adverse jury instruction would surely create a bias mindset in the court and on jurors. There will never be a shortage of evidentiary material for this case but the jurors will be told that some potentially helpful and enlightening materials got lost due to Samsung’s failure to do its obligation to preserve evidence. Some of the jurors may think it was intentional on the part of Samsung to delete the emails that could potentially make its defense look bad while others may think it was a sheer recklessness on the part of the company that it failed to comply its obligation.

Experts say that if it could be proven that Samsung willfully infringed Apple’s patents, Apple’s $2.5 billion claim may be doubled or even tripled.

Source: WSJ

Judge Grewal’s order

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