Samsung keeps Apple's eyes off secret docs

Samsung keeps Apple's eyes off secret docs

Summary: Samsung has convinced the Australian Federal Court not to release some confidential documents relating to the ongoing court battle over patents with Apple.

TOPICS: Apple, Samsung, Australia

Samsung has been handed a small victory in the long-running patent dispute case over the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the iPad 2, and the iPhone 4 and 4S in Australia, with the court agreeing to keep a number of documents from Apple's eyes as they were created when the company considered suing Apple for patent infringement.

The case between Apple and Samsung in Australia began in July 2011, and the full hearing for the case by Justice Annabelle Bennett commenced in July 2012.

While Apple brought the case against Samsung for the alleged infringement of its patents in the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the first few months of the case has focused on Samsung's countersuit that the iPhone 4, 4S, and the iPad 2 infringed on Samsung's 3G patents.

The patents that Samsung has relied upon for the suit are what are known as standards-essential patents, meaning that the technology must be included within 3G devices in order to operate. Samsung is required to license these technologies on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

Samsung has alleged that Apple never obtained licenses for these patents prior to using them in the iPhone and iPad. Apple has alleged that the licensing terms that Samsung sought from Apple were not reasonable and not on the same level as those offered to other third-party vendors.

As part of the discovery process, Apple sought access to thousands of documents from Samsung, and unhappy with what Samsung had produced, asked for more documents from the company. A senior legal counsel with Samsung, Jae-Hwan Kim, wrote an affidavit to the court explaining that a number of the documents Apple was seeking would fall under privilege because they were created by Samsung's intellectual property centre for the purposes of legal advice for potential litigation.

The dispute over access to these documents was heard by Justice Dennis Cowdroy separate to the main case before Bennett.

Apple alleged that, despite the fact that the documents were created by the IP centre, there was no evidence to suggest they were created for the purpose of litigation, and Kim is not in a position to decide whether the documents should be kept secret because he is employed by Samsung. In response, the Korean tech giant said that the IP centre's function is to formulate and advise on litigation strategy, so the documents should be kept under wraps.

In a judgment handed down on December 10, and published to the public on Monday, Cowdroy found that Kim's affidavit doesn't explain how each individual document was related to litigation, and therefore, should not be the subject of privilege. The court also found that because he is an employee, Kim's affidavit cannot be relied on as to whether the documents were privileged.

Cowdroy also said that the documents created in the IP centre aren't automatically guaranteed privilege.

"The Court concurs with Apple's claim that such robotic repetition, without detailed description or explanation, gives the Court little confidence that the document for which privilege is claimed was brought into existence for the dominant purpose of the litigation."

But, "despite the shortcomings" in Samsung's claim, Cowdroy found overall that the documents might fall under the privileged protection, and ruled that more than half the documents Apple had sought access to were protected by privilege.

"From such inspection, the Court has satisfied itself that those documents were prepared in anticipation of litigation at a time when litigation was reasonably contemplated, or prepared after the commencement of litigation for the purpose of assisting in the preparation of the litigation."

Several documents that were partially redacted prior to being given to Apple, now must be given to Apple in full, however.

The case is set to resume at the end of January 2013. Since the commencement of the trial, the case has been heard over 50 days and will be heard through the majority of 2013 until at least December 13, 2013.

Topics: Apple, Samsung, Australia


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • "The case is set to resume" - as more than about 30 trials around the world

    The subject.
  • Almost funny

    Apple can claim that the lawyer claiming privilege is working for Samsung and therefore biased, but somehow forgot to mention that their own lawyer - paid for by Apple, just might carry an equal but opposite bias.
    Apple's whole history, from the vrery beginning in a Carport, was all about stealing intellectual property from others, and claiming it as their own.
    Steve Jobs proudly related how he even stole from his own partner, Steve Wozniak, yet the Woz is still an apple disciple - go figure.
  • Almost funny

    Inkwell says: "Steve Jobs proudly related how he even stole from his own partner, Steve Wozniak, yet the Woz is still an apple disciple - go figure."

    Its a cult. I know fanboys who have had nothing but trouble with their Apple products (failed power supplies, failed motherboards, failed iPhones) and still rave about how great their products are. And despite what they think, a Mac is still a PC, a personal computer. Funny to watch them spin when you say that. Hours of entertainment.

    Cult. Think Jonestown... drinkin' the koolaid...
    • It's More Like a Lifestyle

      Apple is in the unique position of having loyal users that will back the company (some to a fault). Like Harley-Davidson, over the course of more than 30 years, Apple built products that user's like even though they may not contain the latest bells & whistles (I remember the 90's when if you wanted to see next year's IBM PC or next gen Windows, you looked at the current Mac.

      Like the Motor Company, I have seen Apple logo tattoos on several people, but never a little green 'roid . . . Samsung would die to have that kind of a following! In the end, Apple is a lifestyle, get over it already.
      • Looking at past tech

        When i look at the latest Apple MAC or Win7 PC, I see a 1984 SGI Indy workstation. When I look at computers, tablets or phones with touch screens, I see 1979 to 80s touch screen operations. Admitted nothing was patented but it is prior art which was expected to be superceded by easier interfaces that were in the development phase. Gates and Jobs changed all that and kept us back in the computer's past for some easy money on other's old ideas.
    • What's really funny

      Is how the fact that Apple has loyal fans and that really seems to chap your a$$. So what cult to you follow? Is it Android or Windows or simply an Apple haters cult because you sound as biased as any fanboy. Like Gr8Music said some are loyal to a fault but anybody with an open mind a reasonable intellect can see you have those same types of people for each OS, manufacturer or whatever group you want to talk about. It's the simply minded people in the world that think they only exist as Apple fans.