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Apple says jury should learn Samsung destroyed evidence

Apple asks judge to overrule Samsung's objections about allowing the jury to learn about Samsung's history of deleting e-mail evidence going back to 2004.

Apple wants the jury hearing the patent case involving Samsung to learn that two federal courts have found Samsung has a history of destroying evidence.

Greg Sandoval

Apple said in court documents filed yesterday that not only did Samsung continue deleting e-mails involving this case even though it was required to preserve the data, but also, in 2004, a district court in New Jersey "issued adverse inference instructions against Samsung because it never flipped the 'off switch' on its...automatic computer e-mail policy [that] allowed e-mails to be deleted."

Opening arguments in the long-awaited trial between Samsung and Apple got under way yesterday. Apple accuses Samsung of ripping off its smartphone technology, and Samsung accuses Apple of violating some of its patents. The case is filled with accusations, counteraccusations, and a sideshow involving a public relations war, which is getting nastier by the day.

As for Samsung's history of deleting e-mails, the Korea-based electronics manufacturer argues that the magistrate judge, who decided the jury could hear about Samsung's spoliation of evidence, erred in his decision and that the information should be kept from the jury. Apple countered in its own motion that Samsung has no legal footing and asked Lucy Koh, the federal court judge hearing the patent case, to overrule Samsung's request.

Apple wrote that Samsung has prevented its side from seeing evidence that could have been vital to Apple's case and that U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal agreed that Samsung wronged Apple when the company "continued throughout this case automatically to delete e-mails."

Grewal also wrote that Samsung "kept the shredder on long after it should have known about this litigation and simply trusted its custodial employees to save relevant" e-mails.

Grewal found that "Samsung 'consciously disregarded' its obligation to preserve relevant evidence."

Apple pointed to how this spoliation could hurt Apple. The company's lawyers noted that Lee Min-hyuk will testify about the design of the Samsung products Apple alleges were rip-offs of the iPhone. Apple alleges that he is the principle designer of the "accused Galaxy S phones" and Samsung produced no e-mails from his files. Apple wrote tersely, "Relevant e-mails once existed." Apple's lawyers say they know this because Samsung produced 75 of them dated after Lee received a document-retention notice and because other "custodians" of the e-mails preserved them.

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