Quinn, Samsung Get No Help From Koh in Sanctions Fight
This story originally appeared in sister publication The Recorder.
SAN FRANCISCO — In the hot seat over accusations they leaked a confidential Apple business record, Samsung's lawyers at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan aren't getting a break from U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh.
In an order issued Tuesday evening, Koh backed the approach taken by U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal and said Samsung and the Quinn team must explain their apparent mishandling of confidential information turned over by Apple during discovery.
In early October Grewal, who is considering sanctions against Samsung, ordered the company's lawyers to turn over communications related to the breach and make a Samsung executive available for deposition.
Grewal's ruling set tongues wagging in Silicon Valley as IP lawyers considered their own handling of protective orders and shared a moment of collective schadenfraude at Quinn's expense.
Samsung complained to Koh, protesting that Grewal's order was "grossly overbroad" and would force the company to spend millions of dollars to comply. But Koh noted that Samsung and its lawyers at Quinn had been unable to satisfactorily answer Grewal's questions about the extent of the violations, though they had been on notice since July.
"Samsung's lack of information after three months is inexcusable, and necessitates Court-supervised discovery," she wrote.
In August, Apple moved for sanctions against Samsung and Quinn Emanuel, insisting the team had mishandled documents designated for "Attorneys' Eyes Only", including Apple's confidential 2011 licensing agreement with Nokia.
Apple alleges that Quinn Emanuel sent Samsung an unredacted expert report containing confidential information that was later uploaded to a company server and shared with some 50 employees. In a meeting with Nokia, Seungho Ahn, who leads Samsung's Intellectual Property Center, recited the terms of the company's licensing agreement with Apple to gain the upper hand in negotiations, according to a declaration from a Nokia executive.
Koh expressed concern that Samsung also may have used the confidential information before the International Trade Commission, noting that the documents were turned over for use only in the district court case.
"To preserve the integrity of protective orders, which are essential to all litigation, the Court must act swiftly in ensuring that protective orders are complied with and that violations are dealt with appropriately," Koh wrote.
Although Samsung claimed disclosing the pertinent information could violate attorney-client and work-product privileges, Koh ruled that the company could make those objections during discovery.
She declined Samsung's request to stay the orders pending a possible appeal, writing that Samsung could seek a stay from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit if it does appeal.The dispute comes as the electronics giants' scorched earth battle over smartphone technology heats up once more. In mid-November, Koh will preside over a trial to reset the damages from last year's jury trial, which ended with a $1 billion award to Apple that was later trimmed. A trial over a second batch of the companies' products is set to begin in March.
"The public and Apple have a strong interest in having the two Apple v. Samsung cases proceed to a decision on the merits and to not have unresolved alleged protective order violations pending after the trial in these two cases," Koh wrote.
Contact the reporter at email@example.com.