Samsung hires judge who ruled against Apple as legal expert

U.K. Judge Robin Jacob is now employed by the same company that got his nod of approval in a case against Apple last year.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

A judge who favored Samsung in a recent court case is now working for the company. But apparently that's perfectly OK in the U.K.

U.K. Judge Robin Jacob served on the bench last year in a case that forced Apple to publish an apology notice asserting that Samsung did not infringe on the design of the iPad for its own tablet.

Though Jacob had retired a year earlier, U.K. law allows for ex-judges to still sit on the bench.

The case itself was notable for going several rounds.

First, Samsung objected to the notice that Apple published, prompting the court to order the iPhone maker to replace it with a new apology. Apple was then accused of using code to hide part of the notice on its Web site and had to remove the code in question.

Jacob criticized Apple for its initial non-apologetic apology in spite of the court's order, saying: "I'm at a loss that a company such as Apple would do this," calling it a "plain breach of that order."

Apple also claimed that other countries had found Samsung guilty of copying the iPad design whereas the U.K. court exonerated Samsung. But Jacob backed Samsung by calling that assertion false.

Now Samsung is in the midst of a new case with Ericsson in which Jacob is playing a different kind of role, according to Foss Patents. The U.S. International Trade Commission is investigating a patent infringement claim filed by Ericsson against Samsung last November.

And, according to a letter to the court from Samsung obtained by Foss Patents, Jacob has been hired by Samsung as one of the nine legal experts for the case. Jacob's new job comes less than four months after he presided over the case between Samsung and Apple.

As Foss Patents' Florian Mueller points out, U.K. law apparently doesn't prevent an ex-judge who ruled in one case involving a company to be hired by that same company as an expert for a different case.

But it does open up questions of impropriety even if the actions of Samsung and Jacob are perfectly legal.

"What would people say if Judge Lucy Koh, a few months after denying Apple a permanent injunction against Samsung, returned to private practice and was hired as an 'expert' by Samsung in a German litigation with Ericsson?" Mueller asked. "I guess there are written or at least unwritten rules in the United States that would prevent this from happening in the first place. In the U.K. it appears to be above board and accepted."