Apple and Samsung aren't scheduled to go to trial in Apple's infringement case until July at the earliest, but the company's legal teams continue to trade blows. In a recent filing, Cupertino's attorneys accused Samsung of allowing large amounts of evidence to be destroyed in what it paints as a pattern Samsung has followed across several different lawsuits. The motion itself is heavily redacted, but in what we can read Apple cites prior cases from 2010 and 2011 where Samsung was sanctioned for continuing its policy of deleting emails every two weeks — even though it had an obligation to preserve them.
The loss of "unknown volumes" of evidence
According to Cupertino, Samsung's actions have resulted in the "irretrievable loss of unknown volumes" of email evidence. The company underscores the important of the emails by pointing to the head of Samsung's product strategy team, Won Pyo Hong. Hong was forced into a deposition by the disclosure of an email in which he ordered side-by-side comparisons of Apple and Samsung products for an internal Samsung presentation. Because so many emails have been destroyed, Apple argues, there could be countless witnesses it may not be able to access. Apple also brings up Samsung's destruction of files in connection with an investigation by the Republic of Korea's Fair Trade Commission, including the company's internal roadmaps made in response to the iPhone. Earlier this year, Samsung was levied with the Commission's highest fine ever for its actions.
While Apple mentions several possible sanctions in response — including the dismissal of Samsung's claims and defenses outright — the filing in questions instead asks for Judge Lucy Koh to issue "adverse inference jury instructions." Basically, to inform the jury at the end of the trial that Samsung withheld or destroyed incriminating evidence, and to factor that into its deliberations.
Samsung says the claims are "speculation"
Unsurprisingly, Samsung sees things differently, characterizing Apple's claims as "baseless" and "speculation." The company's legal team in fact asked the judge for additional time to address Apple's allegations, citing the need to participate in one of the other disputes between the companies at the US International Trade Commission. Earlier today US Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal split the difference, giving Samsung an extension on preparing its response, though the hearing date to decide the issue is still up in the air.
As dramatic as it all seems on its surface, however, at this point it's just a chess match: each side trying to set up its next move with as much forethought and care as possible. Of course, one could argue that Samsung hasn't been the best strategist lately, with delays in its production of code-based evidence causing Judge Grewal to pull one of the company's possible defenses off the table already. With mediations set for later this month, there's also the distinct chance that a settlement could be reached, rendering all of the jockeying moot. The way these two competitors continue to go after one another, however, what happens next is still anyone's guess.
Matt Macari contributed to this report.