Apple Seeks Sanctions Against Samsung for Contract Breach

In a legal battle that has seen its fair share of controversy, Apple has once again called out Samsung for questionable conduct. This time, the issue at hand involves Samsung executives gaining unauthorized access to highly confidential documents from a 2011 licensing agreement between Apple and Nokia.

The discovery phase of litigation is crucial for protecting sensitive information, such as employee data, future business strategies, and, in this instance, confidential licensing details. Documents in this phase are often marked “Highly Confidential – Attorneys’ Eyes Only” to ensure they do not fall into the hands of competitors.

However, it appears that Samsung executives were privy to documents intended solely for Apple’s legal team, which included the law firm Quinn Emanuel. Not only did Samsung employees access these restricted documents, but there were also indications of them boasting about the acquisition.

According to a court order by Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal, there seems to have been a breach of confidentiality rules by Samsung.

Apple had provided documents related to its licensing agreements with Nokia, Ericsson, Sharp, and Philips, all marked for attorney eyes only. However, a report by Dr. David J. Teece on damages, which referenced these documents, was not appropriately marked and was inadvertently shared with Samsung employees.

The report was uploaded to an FTP site accessible to Samsung staff, and instructions to access the site were emailed to Samsung’s regular client distribution list.

This led to the report being sent to over fifty Samsung employees, including senior licensing executives, on multiple occasions.

Fast forward to June 2013, during a meeting between Nokia and Samsung executives, Samsung’s Dr. Seungho Ahn allegedly used his knowledge of the confidential Apple-Nokia licensing terms to influence negotiations with Nokia. According to Nokia’s Chief Intellectual Property Officer, Paul Melin, Dr. Ahn recited terms of the Apple-Nokia license to demonstrate his knowledge and claimed that “all information leaks.”

This revelation has not been openly addressed by Samsung, which has refrained from providing sworn testimony from the executives involved or any evidence regarding the use of the confidential information.

Samsung maintains that no wrongdoing occurred, arguing that a breach of the protective order only happens if it is willful.

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Kevin is a dedicated writer for TUAW, where he brings the latest Apple news to life. With a keen eye for detail, Kevin covers everything from the newest iPhone releases to the latest updates on macOS. His insightful articles help readers stay informed about their favorite Apple products, including the iPad, Apple Watch, and MacBook. Kevin’s commitment to delivering accurate and engaging content makes him a trusted voice in the Apple community.