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Samsung: Decision to send media blocked evidence was 'lawful, ethical'

August 01, 2012|By Andrea Chang
  • A sign in U.S. District Court in San Jose for the patent-infringement trial between Apple and Samsung.
A sign in U.S. District Court in San Jose for the patent-infringement trial… (Andrea Chang / Los Angeles…)

SAN JOSE -- Samsung lawyer John Quinn has some explaining to do.

After sending reporters links to blocked evidence in its patent trial against Apple on Tuesday, Samsung had to face the wrath of U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh. Again.

Here's a recap of what went down in court earlier in the day: Before opening statements, Quinn approached the bench and asked Koh to reconsider her earlier decision that Samsung not be allowed to present evidence showing that Apple's iPhone was inspired by "Sony style."

Koh had previously denied the request and quickly did so again, saying the court needed to move forward. But Quinn didn't go easily.

"Your honor, I've been practicing law for 36 years and I've never begged the court. I'm begging the court now," Quinn said.

As the tiff became more heated, Koh warned: "Mr. Quinn, don't make me sanction you." After that didn't work, she snapped: "I want you to sit down, please."

Opening statements then began. Then, in the early afternoon, I (as well as other reporters in the courtroom) received an email containing two links to the blocked evidence, as well as a short statement that read in full:

"The Judge’s exclusion of evidence on independent creation meant that even though Apple was allowed to inaccurately argue to the jury that the F700 was an iPhone copy, Samsung was not allowed to tell the jury the full story and show the pre-iPhone design for that and other phones that were in development at Samsung in 2006, before the iPhone. The excluded evidence would have established beyond doubt that Samsung did not copy the iPhone design. Fundamental fairness requires that the jury decide the case based on all the evidence."

The links to the excluded evidence showed Apple's "Sony-style" designs and Samsung's independent creation.

Word quickly reached Koh that the links had been sent, and she demanded an explanation. In a five-page declaration submitted Wednesday morning, Quinn said he approved and authorized the release of the statement and slammed Apple for calling it a "general press release." He said he made the move following "multiple requests from members of the media seeking further explanation."

"Contrary to the representations Apple's counsel made to this Court, Samsung did not issue a general press release and more importantly, did not violate any Court Order or any legal or ethical standards," Quinn wrote. "These false representations by Apple's counsel publicly and unfairly called my personal reputation into question and have resulted in media reports likewise falsely impugning me personally."

Quinn -- who is managing partner of Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhart & Sullivan and was also the lawyer for Mattel in last year's massive copyright-infringement case against Bratz dolls maker MGA Entertainment -- also said that all of the material in question was previously in the public record.

"Moreover, before jury selection, virtually all of the information and images in the excluded slides had already appeared in dozens of media reports, including by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, and CNET," Quinn's declaration said.

He added that the decision to send the evidence was "lawful, ethical and fully consistent with the relevant California Rules of Professional Responsibility," and he maintained that the move was "not motivated by or designed to influence jurors."

In the meantime, Samsung has removed the links.

The patent-infringement case kicked off Monday in federal court in San Jose. Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple is seeking more than $2.5 billion in damages from its South Korean rival for what it calls blatant copying of its iPhone and iPad devices. After two days of proceedings, the trial isn't scheduled to be back in session until Friday.

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Follow Andrea Chang on Twitter.

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