updated 07:00 pm EST, Fri March 9, 2012
Samsung guilty of 'document dumps,' says judge
Apple's lawyers have taken on a substantial number of Korean-American contract lawyers and reviewers, nearly 100 in all, to help the company sift through piles of untranslated Korean documents from Samsung as part of its ongoing patent disputes, reports Apple legal watcher Florian Mueller. Apple will also be allowed to conduct further depositions on Samsung witnesses regarding documents Apple says it received just days before the original depositions.
Apple's lawyers have complained that Samsung tends to make requested documents -- sometimes hundreds or thousands of pages -- available only shortly before witnesses are to be questioned about the documents, making it difficult for lawyers to analyze them to prepare questions for testimony. In partially granting a request for additional depositions of up to 10 Samsung witnesses who need to testify on the untranslated Korean documents, Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal said that he "encourages" Apple to extend the same depositional courtesy to Samsung.
Apple is currently battling Samsung on a number of fronts, but the largest quantities of Korean-language documents the company will have to deal with is occurring in the "discovery" portion of four lawsuits: two in California federal court, and two International Trade Commission cases. The two law firms working these cases, Morrison & Foerster (which heads up Apple's lawsuits against Samsung) and Wilmer Hale (which defends Apple from Samsung's claims) have between them hired a total of 73 contract attorneys and 20 document reviewers which have agreed to be bound by a protective order from the courts.
Some of the lawyers hired do not have a background in patent litigation but were brought on board for their Korean-American heritage and ability to analyze the Korean documents. The move sends a clear signal to Samsung that Apple is prepared to spend whatever is required to both pursue its own lawsuits against the handset maker as well as defend itself from Samsung's own lawsuits. Samsung has recently been said to have increased its litigation budget from $200 million to $260 million in response to the patent wars.
As to the issue of Samsung producing Korean-language documents just a day (or in some cases just hours) ahead of depositions, Judge Grewal has somewhat ironically granted the iPad maker a "second bite of the apple" in allowing the company to re-depose some Samsung witnesses because it was logistically impossible for lawyers to translate and analyze documents in time for the first depositions. The second round of depositions must be completed by the end of the month, the judge ruled.
Mueller noted that while Apple has been no more forthcoming with documents than it is legally required to, "I believe it's fair to say that Samsung has made more attempts to play tactical games and, in some cases, to stall," particularly when Apple touched on sensitive issues. In granting Apple's request, Judge Grewal found "Apple's demonstration of a pattern of last-minute document production by Samsung to be troubling in its consistency."
Mueller concludes that Samsung appears to be "on the defensive" against Apple and may be stalling for time in some of the cases in hopes of negotiating a settlement. [via Florian Mueller]