The patent war between technology giants Samsung and Apple has been raging since April 2011 when Apple filed a lawsuit claiming that Samsung had illegally aped elements of the iPhone and the iPad and Samsung then countered by filing a number of suits in a number of venues claiming that Apple violated of several its patents.  For excellent coverage of some of the background in this lengthy and ongoing, multifaceted litigation, check out Carolina Blanco’s March 2012 post, this extensive litigation timeline, or this New York Times article.

Still were this dispute still limited to the merits of the various cases, I probably would not have chosen to blog about it, as my understanding of IP law is cursory at best.  This case, however, has become about more than just patents as emotions seem to have been running high on both sides ever since Apple first accused Samsung of “slavishly” copying its designs.  And the ongoing trial that began on July 31 and that is expected to run for four weeks has pointed a magnifying glass at the rising tension on both sides.

Perhaps the most noteworthy (and gossip-worthy) performance so far has come from John Quinn, name partner at the litigation titan  Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, who is party of Samsung’s legal team.  On the opening day, even before opening arguments, Quinn told Judge Lucy Koh that he had never before begged before in his thirty six years as a lawyer but that he was now begging that she reconsider her decision to evidence that Samsung had been working on a rectangular smartphone prior to the release of the iPhone, which Judge Koh had banned as being tardily introduced.  When the judge refused, Quinn persisted until her honor warned him not to make her sanction him and told him to sit down.

Although Quinn did sit down then, he was not done yet as that day Samsung issued a press release, which, among other things, discussed the excluded evidence and stated that “fundamental fairness requires that the jury decide the case based on all the evidence.”  This move prompted Judge Koh to demand an affidavit from Quinn detailing his involvement in the release and induced Apple’s attorneys request sanctions or a verdict in its favor based on Samsung’s attempt to pollute the jury.  After Quinn filed a lively affidavit defending his honor, Judge Koh opted not to grant Apple’s request that she rule in its favor but did note that there was a risk of jury and suggested that sanctions may be appropriate at the conclusion of the hearing.

Given the aggressive litigation stances taken by both parties, this round of fireworks will almost certainly not be the last.  Further, the exceedingly high stakes of this case in both the technology and IP fields means that this spat will likely be overshadowed by the case’s ultimate verdict.  Nonetheless, this little squabble provides a nice illustration of the perils of communicating with the press regarding ongoing litigation.

–Hunter Branstetter

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One Response to Legal Heat in the Apple v. Samsung Patent Battle

  1. Colton Cline says:

    I’ve been keeping up with all of the litigation and I’ve found some fun charts . . .

    This shows just how convoluted all of the litigation can be. Also, although the Apple litigation is highly publicized, everyone is always suing everyone:

    Here is a chart tracking the design changes of Apple and Samsung products over the years (albeit biased):

    And another: