Judge Lucy Koh has overruled Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal in the ongoing Apple vs. Samsung trial and handed the Korean company a chance to get a better verdict. Rather than providing an adverse interference instruction against Samsung alone over deleted emails — as Judge Grewal ordered — the court will tell the jury exactly the same thing about both companies.
According to FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller, this gives Samsung the chance to get a “verdict it can live with.” This is what the jury will hear from the court about Samsung:
Samsung Electronics Company has failed to preserve evidence for Apple’s use in this litigation after Samsung Electronics Company’s duty to preserve arose. Whether this fact is important to you in reaching a verdict in this case is for you to decide.
And this is what the jury will hear from the court about Apple:
Apple has failed to preserve evidence for Samsung’s use in this litigation after Apple’s duty to preserve arose. Whether this fact is important to you in reaching a verdict in this case is for you to decide.
FOSS Patents notes that as a result of this, the jury will not consider Samsung any less trustworthy than Apple, which would have been the case had Judge Grewal’s order been upheld.
Samsung argued that Apple’s duty to preserve emails must have arisen no later that Samsung’s, and the company wanted to be treated equally. If Samsung received an adverse inference instruction, it wanted Apple to get one, too. Or it wanted neither party to receive one. Judge Grewal dimissed Samsung’s motion as untimely, according to FOSS Patents, but Judge Koh was much softer with her ruling.
It appears that Judge Koh was too concerned about appearing to apply double standards to the two parties. However, I continue to believe that the facts in Samsung’s case — given that the Korean company already faced problems in U.S. litigation due to its automatic deletion of emails seven years ago — were far more serious than the ones in Apple’s case. Judge Koh certainly missed an opportunity to show strength and treat companies differently if the facts warrant it, even if the parties’ conduct may appear comparable at the highest level of abstraction.
FOSS Patents notes that if the outcome of the trial does’t go Apple’s way, the Cupertino company could use this situation in its appeal, and ask for a retrial with a different instruction. Right now, all it can do is convince Judge Koh to change her mind ahead of the jury deliberations that will start on Wednesday.
Apple is still said to be in a good position, and it likely to win the case. However, the company would be in a much better position if Judge Grewal’s decision was upheld. “Now there will be two extremely soft instructions that cancel each other out,” Mueller writes.
Source: FOSS Patents