Apple seeks to bar key Samsung executives from licensing negotiations

As a sanction for leaking confidential information, Apple also wants Samsung to be prevented from bringing an injunction in another case

Apple is seeking to bar Samsung Electronics executives with knowledge of leaked confidential information from negotiating any mobile device licenses for the South Korean company for the next two years.

The iPhone maker is also asking the court to bar Samsung from seeking an injunction in another patent dispute between the two companies that is currently before the court in California, because of its "unclean hands." That case comes up for trial next year.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose division, is considering sanctions against Samsung and its lawyers because of concerns that the company's external counsel may have shared confidential information from Apple with Samsung, including information on Apple's patent licensing agreements with Nokia, Ericsson, Sharp and Philips, which were marked for viewing by the attorneys alone.

The issue came up after testimony in June from Nokia's chief intellectual property officer, Paul Melin, that Samsung executive Seungho Ahn told him at a license negotiation meeting that he knew the terms of Nokia's licensing agreement with Apple, and went on to recite the terms of the license to prove his point.

On further investigation, it was found that key terms of the four patent license agreements were contained in a draft expert report on damages that was forwarded to Samsung without redaction, according to court records. Apple had provided the information to Samsung's law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan during the discovery phase of the lawsuit, in which Apple was awarded damages of US$1.05 billion against Samsung last year. The damages were whittled down to about $930 million in a retrial last month, after the judge asked a new jury to recalculate a part of the damages.

Samsung's outside counsel posted the expert report on an FTP (file transfer protocol) site where it was accessible by some Samsung staff including licensing executives, according to court records.

In a filing late Monday, Apple has asked the court to prohibit Ahn and other Samsung executives who improperly obtained the confidential business information; including those responsible for licensing or managing Samsung's litigation with Apple, from negotiating any mobile device licenses for Samsung for the next two years.

Apple also wants the court to prohibit Quinn Emanuel from executing any new protective orders under which it would receive Apple confidential information for a period of two years.

The company said it was not, however, seeking Quinn Emanuel's disqualification from the two lawsuits between Samsung and Apple in the California court, because they are at an advanced stage.

Apple is also asking the court to reprimand both Samsung and Quinn Emanuel, and to order both to inform the parties in their ongoing court cases that have protective orders about the breaches.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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