Apple trial: Samsung deleted emails it shouldn't have

Apple trial: Samsung deleted emails it shouldn't have

Summary: As Samsung and Apple set out their arguments ahead of next week's patent showdown, a US magistrate has told the jury that Samsung destroyed relevant evidence, albeit not necessarily deliberately

TOPICS: Patents, Apple, Samsung

Samsung destroyed evidence that could have been used in its US courtroom battle against Apple, a judge has informed the jury ahead of next week's trial.

Magistrate Paul Grewal issued the notice of what is legally called 'spoliation' on Wednesday, telling the jury that they could take it into account if they want, when deciding whether Samsung really did copy the iPhone and iPad's design and other patents in its subsequent Android products.

Samsung's employees use a proprietary, web-based email system called mySingle, which has a default policy that ensures the deletion of all emails after two weeks, largely for security reasons.

Samsung was supposed to put that policy on hold for relevant emails when Apple told it in August 2010 that it was allegedly infringing on Apple's design patents, but it only definitively ordered its employees to retain relevant emails when Apple sued in April 2011. As a result, swathes of likely evidence from key Samsung executives were not retained as they should have been.

However, Grewal did not find that Samsung had destroyed the evidence deliberately — if he done so, he could have ordered the jury to take the incident into account when reaching their verdict.

"Relevant evidence was destroyed after the duty to preserve arose," Grewal told the jury. "And second, the lost evidence was favourable to Apple. Whether this finding is important to you in reaching a verdict in this case is for you to decide."

Pre-trial briefs

Grewal's order came a day after Apple and Samsung filed their pre-trial briefs — the Wall Street Journal has uploaded both Apple's and Samsung's submissions.

Both briefs contain strong allegations, largely based on the kind of emails that Samsung's systems swallowed up.

Apple showed a picture that depicted Samsung's smartphone portfolio before and after the iPhone's 2007 release, highlighting how its preceding designs were very different to those after that release:

Apple submission in US patent trial

However, Samsung also included a picture in its submission, showing "internal Samsung design presentations from the summer of 2006" that have many of the same, simplified features as the iPhone:

Samsung submission in patent trial

Samsung also noted that, in February 2006, Apple executives were sent an interview with a Sony designer, describing "Sony portable electronic device designs that lacked 'excessive ornamentation' such as buttons, fit in the hand, were 'square with a screen' and had 'corners [which] have been rounded out.'" Shortly afterwards, they started designing the iPhone.

The versions of the briefs that are public are redacted. However, All Things D appears to have seen an unredacted version of Apple's brief, showing several fresh allegations.

According to that story, Google warned Samsung in February 2010 that its tablet designs were too close to that of the iPad; Samsung's own product design team acknowledged 'regrettable' similarities between the Galaxy S smartphone and early iPhone models; and "famous designers" also warned Samsung over the same device.

Topics: Patents, Apple, Samsung

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • And even more news...

    Looks like there's some weakening without Jobs!

    Maybe they shouldn't be so aggressive, after all, their internal design example did have Sony written on it right?
    • So,

      What you're saying is that Apple only grew 23%, which was 2% higher than Google and well ahead of MS, thus it's in trouble. Wow, reckon there'd be a few companies out there that would like to be growing at only 23%.
      A Grain of Salt
    • @Peter Perry

      What does that have to do with Samsung's destruction of evidence?

      When you posted under your old name you weren't usually so obviously trolling.
      • Nah

        I have always linked articles that I figured ZDNet wouldn't cover accurately...

        Crud, the New York Times reported the article we are commenting on yesterday and there was a lot pf damning evidence against both sides... Funny how this article Stripped out the bit about the iPhone Cad Drawings have other companies logos before it was ever released.

        Poor reporting should upset all of you but, if it is about Apple you get upset.
        • So let me get this straight...

          you're so upset about the reporting that you hijack someone else's blog to insert non-relevant links, and are so proud of your activity that you hide behind a new screen name?
        • It should upset people

          That it doesn't says a lot about the moral fiber of some of the people responding to you. They only see that Apple is always right, everyone else is always wrong. It prevents them from thinking rationally. Hence why they are so upset with you.
          • @NonZealot

            Your unbiased response is appreciated. Oh, wait....
    • Nice find and yes, I really liked seeing that Sony example

      I didn't realize that Apple slavishly copied Sony designs. Also very telling that Samsung had internal designs based on their earlier photo frames from times before the iPhone came out. Kudos to Samsung, they just won this case.
      • 2006' Sony interview is obviously irrelevant

        1. Jobs insisted on rounded corners since 1980s, at the time when he forced MacOS team to implement this design feature in windows rendering, including calculator.

        2. Minimalism, no arnament design is Apple's/Jobs thing for decades already.

        3. All screen design comes from no later than 2004, when Jobs started to force the idea of on-screen keyboard and found FingerWorks, which had capacitive multi-touch technology.

        So Jury will have no issue with this Sony interview from 2006; irrelevant.

        And since it is not the first time when Samsung "accidently" destroys evidence, the dating of some of their "internal designs" -- supposedly from 2006 -- are not reliable. Court will have to investigate this. Finally, Apple's designs are patented, announced and released to market earlier, so this will not help Samsung much anyway.
        • You'll have to do better

          "Jobs insisted on rounded corners since 1980s"

          Is "insisted" legalese for "owns all rights to"? Of course not. Rounded corners have been around forever. Claiming that a Jobs calculator had rounded corners means that Apple owns rounded corners is a stretch, even for you.

          "Minimalism, no arnament design is Apple's/Jobs thing"

          Same as above.

          "All screen design comes from no later than 2004"

          Clearly not or Apple wouldn't have been caught red handed with Sony designs in their possession.

          "Apple's designs are patented"

          Yes, as patented as the slide to unlock feature. Wait, Apple lost that patent because a judge ruled that it was obvious and that this patent should never have been granted in the first place.

          Kudos Samsung, Apple just got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. And thanks again to Sony for proving who the real slavish copiers are: Apple.
          • All wrong

            1. The reference of round corners is Samsung's way to state that Apple got the idea of rounded corners from 2006' interview with Sony guy -- which is blatantly wrong due to facts of history;

            2. Apple was not "caught" in anything, and did not "possess" any Sony's designs. Samsung just says there was 2006 interview with Sony guy that mentions words all screen and rounded corners;

            3. Slide to unlock patent is legislated all around the world, and only in one case judge denied this patent for now. This is because there was never way to unlock phone by moving an object by finger. There was way to unlock phone my moving finger across the bottom of the blank black screen -- no object to move -- which was done in Neonode N1 phone. But this is distinctly different from what Apple designed and Google copied (Apple's patent describes unlocking by moving an object, which fits to Apple's and Google's way, but not Neonode's).

            So again all we have with your argument is trolling.
          • Nope

            "So again all we have with your argument is trolling"

            My judge that invalidated Apple's patent for being obvious trumps your Internet eThugery. So I'll turn this around considering I have a real judge in a real court having issued a real verdict and you have nothing. I say to you DRESSS: all we have with your argument is trolling.

            As for the rest of your post, these are all your opinions. The FACTs speak louder than your trolling posts.
          • Wrong again Toddbottom3

            From DERSSS's post: "Slide to unlock patent is legislated all around the world, and only in one case judge denied this patent for now."

            So one judge vs patents held up globally.
          • Wrong athynz

            How could this patent possibly be held up globally if
            a) it hasn't been tried globally (remember, any idiot can get a patent and any idiot's father can get a patent)

            b) it lost in a huge country in this globe (thus making it not globally held up, you can't say something is unanimous with the exception of everyone who voted against it)
          • If any idiot can get a patent...

            how many do you have?
          • Your right toddbottom3

            Facts do always speak louder than your trolling posts.
        • You mean like this?

      • Oh Toddy!

        As usual, you miss the details in your rush to post! Apple created the Sony designs; Jobs killed the design for hire business so they were still Apple designs before the 2006 Samsung design mockups.

        Why doesn't Samsung just make a different design so this all goes away?
        • maybe octagon shape

          so your saying maybe round phones, or how about diagonal phones? yeah, that will go far. This size phone with mostly screen surface, it is only natural metamorphosis and the jury will see it that way.

          Besides, short of industrial espionage which I do not think Apple is claiming here, the 2006 Samsung designs that Samsung put forth were clearly before the public or even private release of the Apple Iphone so this will clear itself up very quickly.

          But you are right, Samsung could easily create a unique look that Apple could do nothing about and it would not hurt Samsung one bit meaning it could continue putting out better phones than the slave boxes that Apple puts out. Just make one corner flat (as if someone took a pair of scissors and cut off a sharp corner) and make that a trademark of Samsung's flagship phones. Apple would have no power to stop that design because even the idiots that buy Iphones would be able to tell it is not an Iphone.
    • So you are saying

      that because Apple missed a Wall Street target they are more vulnerable? Even though Apple surpassed their own target?