Sanctions loom large: Samsung may have spied on sealed Apple-Nokia documents to aid patent deals

“Three months ago I saw a filing by Nokia that related to some discussions with Samsung considered so secretive that it wanted even the very title of a document to be sealed,” Florian Müller reports for FOSS Patents. “It was clear that Nokia and Samsung were talking about something that also related somehow to the 2011 Nokia-Apple settlement, about the terms of which nothing was known except that Apple described it, at a very high level, as ‘merely a ‘provisional license’ for a limited ‘standstill’ period.’ One could figure that Nokia and Samsung wouldn’t talk about some other patent agreement without talking about some sort of patent deal between them — a license or an outright purchase.”

“On Wednesday evening local time, Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, whose writing style is well-liked by various patent litigation watchers including me, entered an order that finally sheds light on this,” Müller reports. “he order came down after a hearing held yesterday on a request by Apple (and possibly also one by Nokia) for sanctions against Samsung (and/or its outside counsel) for violation of a protective order, i.e., for illegal disclosure of (in this case, extremely) confidential business information.”

Müller writes, “I must say that I’m shocked.”

“How did Samsung’s executives get access to contracts that were meant to be used only by its outside counsel (marked as ‘Highly Confidential — Attorneys’ Eyes Only’) for the purposes of litigation with Apple and absolutely positively not for the pupose of gaining unfair advantages in licensing negotiations with anyone (not with Apple, and much less with third parties like Nokia), when such disclosure would constitute an unbelievably serious violation of court rules?” Müller asks.

“At yesterday’s hearing, “Samsung’s counsel repeatedly denied even one violation of the protective order, asserting that ‘such a violation can only occur willfully’ and denied the need for formal discovery. After three months, Samsung still doesn’t answer some very basic questions. And Samsung’s counsel at this point says it’s not directed to answer questions about Samsung’s disclosure of the terms of Apple’s license agreements with Ericsson, Philips, and Sharp,” Müller reports. “Samsung appears likely to be sanctioned, and (which the order does not say but which certain headlines on an ITC docket recently indicated) faces a similar risk at the ITC, which is even stricter in its protection of confidential business information than federal courts.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Samsung is an evil, unethical company. Do not support evil, unethical companies. (This goes for you, too, Tim Cook.)

I don’t know which is worse: Samsung’s slavish copying or that there are tens of millions of dullards and/or morally-crippled consumers who would buy such obvious knockoffs. What kind of person rewards thieves, especially such obvious ones? What kind of person hands over their money to make sure that crime pays? What’s wrong with you people, exactly?

It makes me sad that there are outfits like Samsung Electronics on the planet, as I was with Microsoft before them. People who work for Samsung Electronics should be ashamed. It makes me even sadder to see people supporting blatant criminals, whether it be blindly or, worse, knowingly. To those people I say: Get some morals, will you, or how about at least acquiring a modicum of taste?

What you’re doing is supporting criminal activity. It’s like you’re buying knockoff Coach handbags, but you’re paying pretty much the Coach price! Not too smart, eh? Oh, sure, you might have “saved” a bit upfront on your fake iPhone (maybe you got one of those Buy One Get One or More Free deals), but you’re paying the same data rates – after a couple years, you’ve pretty much paid the same anyway! So, in the end, you’re saving little or nothing while:

a) depriving the company who basically inspired your inferior, fragmented product;
b) depriving yourself of the real deal and the real experience, and;
c) rewarding the criminal, encouraging them to steal even more.

Not a lot of sense being made in any aspect of your toting around that Android phone, is there? Oh, right it’s “open.” Smirk. And, yes, every one of us with the real thing knows that you’re carrying around a half-assed fake, you tasteless wonder.

Didn’t you people have parents? If so, what did they teach you, if anything? Sheesh.

SteveJack, MacDailyNews, August 6, 2012

Related articles:
Apple slams Samsung’s serial benchmark deceptions – October 2, 2013
Samsung to stamp out 30-40% of Apple’s next-gen ‘A8′ chips, South Korean report claims – October 1, 2013
Samsung announces plastic Galaxy S4 ‘Gold Edition’ phone – September 25, 2013
Samsung spies on iPhone launch lines in attempt to understand Apple mystique – September 21, 2013
Samsung: Uh, someday our phones will have 64-bit processors, too – September 12, 2013
The Galaxy Gear stupidwatch: Without Apple to copy, Samsung is clueless – September 4, 2013
CIRP: Apple iPhone users are younger, richer, and better educated than those who settle for Samsung knockoff phones – August 19, 2013
Apple iPhones retain their value. Samsung Android phones don’t. – August 7, 2013


  1. I will never purchase another product from Samsung again, and I will encourage family and friends to do the same. This is beyond shameless activity by them, this is criminal and anti-Anerican. I hope heads role.

    1. It’s criminal but is it anti-american? A US company “bought” the intellectual property rights to a phage collection (viruses specific against bacteria) for $4 Million from a Russian lab and promised as part of the contract to build a new institute for research, sub-licensed it to another US company for a pittance, and then declared itself bankrupt. The sellers never saw a cent, the “sublicensee” is selling the stuff without paying a dime, and the “directors” of the bankrupt company are the directors of the sublicensee. And to top it off a US court decided it is all legal. So please get off your high “american” horse. “American” is not necessarily a good thing in the rest of the World.

    1. So what. We copy, we steal, we fake, etc. Big deal, fandroid still buy our products in drove. And “Honorable” UK judge is in our pocket now. Let me leak something here: “Honorable” US judge Koh, haihai, I can’t tell you yet.

  2. Boycott Samsung is not enough. It is time for this community to take a proactive role and promote this idea amoung the non tech people and grow this thing till it is truely hurting there scum bags!

  3. just embarrassing how a company like samsung continues to make a mockery of the laws here and abroad. no one seems to want to hold them accountable and they’ve bought off too many members of congress.

    1. … the laws HERE? Bought off too many members of Congress?
      Look, they are not an American company. Their culture is not the same as that which the 99% believe in. It is MUCH more like what the 1% believe in. Such as … buying the lawmakers. You get the law changed in your favor and you don’t have to worry that you broke the previous version.
      My guess is you believe along conservative lines and are prone to trust the Tea Party “values” rather than the Eisenhower or even Regan values.
      MDN … it is the American Way to do that which benefits YOU, not some other guy. Many of our laws were designed to protect the more deserving, but then the politicians got involved. Bought off. Did what benefitted THEM. This is what our parents TEACH us to do. So it’s a knock-off … so? The fact that it’s second rate … what does that matter to a fashionista looking for a bit of bling?
      Yes … I’m feeling a bit pessimistic today. Sorry ’bout that.

  4. Preech it brotha SteveJack!

    Samsung needs to be held accountable for their actions, not just in court, but by every man women and child who has proudly held an apple clad product.

  5. Samsung not only spied on the documents, according to Nokia, they used that knowledge to coerce them into signing a licensing deal that gives Samsung the better conditions Apple had.

  6. Sounds like the attorneys for Samsung didn’t maintain confidentiality, and broke the law. They should loose their licenses, and then be subject to criminal and civil proceedings. The documents could be worth $billions, the attorneys should be liable for billions! Name the attorneys so everyone knows who the scummy lawyers are behind the scummy company, No company should trust these lawyers going forward!

    1. The lawyers are Quinn Emmanuel. But proving the lawyers did something dishonest here will be impossible. And, in truth, the initial disclosure could have been a mistake or oversight. But Samsung, pushed by their lawyers, needed to correct the mistake and show, under penalty of perjury that they have shredded every single copy of the confidential information.
      For Samsung’s executives to read a report that has “highly confidential – attorney’s eyes only” stamped all over it, and then use the information in subsequent negotiations, is what is illegal.
      The original disclosure could have been inadvertent. But the subsequent use was done with full knowledge.

  7. I’m no lawyer and all that jargon is well jargon to me. So someone clarify.

    Samsung used confidential documents that contained specific patent/licensing/ip information from Apple rivals. Then Samsung used that information as a leverage to negotiate licensing contracts with Apple?

    1. I think the article says they used the information in negotiating contracts with Nokia. As in, “Well, you did this for Apple, so we want you to do the same or better for us.”

  8. I will never purchase another product from Samsung again, and I will encourage family and friends to do the same.
    Pull our troops out of South Korea! They don’t care about
    American values ,American laws and international laws.

  9. I will never purchase another product from Samsung again, and I will encourage family and friends to do the same.
    Pull our troops out of South Korea! Appears they don’t care about American values ,American laws and international laws.

  10. It’s hard to imagine what kind of sanctions would be strong enough in a case like this. Quinn Emmanuel (Samsung’s lawyers) apparently made a grave “mistake” (scare quotes because who really knows, given Samsung’s history, it’s not difficult to imagine they’d pay someone to make that mistake), then quite a few people at Samsung saw the documents with information that was not supposed to be seen. This has undermined the court system, because when a court orders a company to provide extremely confidential documents to opposing counsel, the risk that just this sort of thing might happen is there, and one has to rely on the promises of counsel not to reveal this information. Now, any company would want to fight tooth and nail against turning over this sort of information (they do already), slowing down the courts and the possibility of justice even more. Given Samsung’s history with courts around the world, for instance, putting on their payroll a judge from the UK (the infamous one that egregiously ordered Apple to put out an ad in papers in the UK that Samsung did not copy), and other cases of improper behavior, this is a chance to hit Samsung very hard with sanctions. They need to be serious enough that this kind of “mistake” will be a loser for them if they should try to take advantage of it again. From their gaming of benchmarks, to stealing of IP (look at the Dyson case, and of course with Apple), to just general dishonesty, Samsung has proved that they should never be trusted with anything, ever.

  11. Samsung were given a hefty fine in a UK court, after being found guilty of copying parts of patented features of Dyson vacuum cleaners, the company are inherently predisposed to copying anything they want, with the expectation that they have a fundamental right to do so, with no recriminations.
    Their entire business culture is clearly based on theft of others IP and hard work, with no effort required on their part to develop unique products of their own.
    And some courts actively encourage them, too; gotta wonder what the paybacks involve…

  12. “Samsung’s counsel repeatedly denied even one violation of the protective order,” said the company that deliberately adds code to their portable phones to deceive benchmark results.
    (and then did it again even after they were caught doing it with a previous product)

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