Apple hits back at Samsung tablet
Business Day - May 7th 2012, 07:47
Samsung Electronics, sanctioned by a US judge for its failure to produce source code in a patent-infringement case in San Jose, California, will be unable to use some evidence to defend itself against Apple.
US magistrate judge Paul Grewal wrote in his ruling on Friday that Samsung had "plainly violated" a court order requiring it to turn over code to Apple, and ruled that Samsung would not be able to offer evidence in the case about its efforts to "design around" three patents at issue.
In its lawsuit, Apple claims Samsung’s 4G smartphone and Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer infringe its patents. In December, US district judge Lucy Koh in San Jose ruled against Apple’s request to block Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung from selling that phone and tablet in the US. That order followed an Australian court ruling lifting an injunction on the tablet there.
Samsung, the world’s largest seller of smartphones last year, and Cupertino, California-based Apple have filed at least 30 lawsuits against each other on four continents since April last year.
In his ruling, Judge Grewal said producing source code in patent litigation is "disruptive, expensive, and fraught with monumental opportunities to screw up". Still, under federal law there is no exception to the requirement, especially when a defendant in a patent suit challenges the opposition’s failure to analyse the accused product’s source code, the judge said.
He had focused on Samsung’s "design-around" source code developed for products with the "specific intent" of avoiding Apple’s patent claims. The ruling targets that code because "by their very nature design-arounds impact key questions of liability, damages and injunctive relief.
"They are inevitably designed with substantial input from counsel for the specific purpose of distinguishing other products at issue," Judge Grewal wrote. "In short, they matter. A lot."
Apple said on Saturday, "It’s no coincidence that Samsung’s latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging. This kind of blatant copying is wrong, and we need to protect … intellectual property when companies steal our ideas."
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