Judge approves Apple request to see “unreleased” Samsung hardware

Wed, May 25, 2011


Samsung last Wednesday was ordered to hand over to Apple five as-of-yet unreleased products so that Apple can compare them to their own offerings ahead of litigation.

Update: To be clear, the Judge approved Apple’s request. However, the products in question will be for “outside counsel eyes only.” In other words, Apple and its legal staff will not be privy to the materials just yet.

Judge Lucy Koh explained, “Apple has demonstrated good cause for some, limited expedited discovery. While Apple has not yet filed a motion for preliminary injunction, courts have found that expedited discovery may be justified to allow a plaintiff to determine whether to seek an early injunction.”

The obvious question is how Apple can request to see products that haven’t been released yet, especially in light of Samsung’s assertion that the products in question may not be representative of the final shipping version. Countering that, Koh explained that Samsung has been quite vociferous in its efforts to tout its upcoming products via images and demo units. Specifically, Koh pointed to Samsung giving away 5,000 free Galaxy Tab 10.1 devices to attendees at this year’s Google I/O conference which went down earlier this month.

Helping their cause, Apple presented to the judge a news report which quotes a Samsung executive saying that they will have to improve parts of their upcoming Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in light of the thinner iPad 2 from Apple.

While Koh’s ruling bears no weight as to the merits of Apple claims, her opinion emphasizes that the evidence proffered by Apple thus far, namely via images of Samsung products set against Apple products, is enough to create a reasonable basis to believe that Samsung’s products “are designed to mimic Apple’s products.”

Now as to why Judge Kho felt that Apple was entitled to upcoming Samsung products, she explains:

In particular, the design and appearance of Samsung’s forthcoming products and packaging are directly relevant to Apple’s trademark, trade dress, and design claims. Because these claims are subject to consumer confusion and “ordinary observer” standards, the products themselves and the packaging in which they are sold are likely to be central to any motion for preliminary injunction.

Samsung now has 30 days to hand over devices, packaging, and package inserts for the following products: The Galaxy S2, the Galaxy Tab 8.9, the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Infuse 4G, and the Droid Charge.”

Samsung naturally claimed that releasing said information to a competitor would put it at a competitive disadvantage, but Kuo, again, highlighted that Samsung has “already released images and samples of its forthcoming products to the media and members of the public.”

One area where Apple did not emerge victorious was in its efforts to depose Samsung executives, a request which Judge Kho felt was too burdensome given the short amount of time Samsung executives would have to prepare.

This is getting good, folks.

via Courthouse News



19 Comments For This Post

  1. Frank Says:

    The judge must be an iPhone user.

  2. Michael Says:

    From the article you cite:

    She also limited the results of discovery to “Outside Counsel Eyes Only,” meaning neither Apple nor its in-house counsel will get a peek at the phones or related marketing materials.

    So, the answer to the question “how Apple can request to see products that haven’t been released yet?” is that they aren’t going to see the products.

  3. kanaida Says:

    this is an outrage. since when does a comment like •i want to make a better product than ones we’ve seen around• give the competition the ability to pry into Samsung prototypes?

  4. greed5 Says:

    Im a technology support analyst and though I provide end user support to apple products, I would never own one, i honestly would rather pay more for any other electronic gadget, then have what everyone else has… the day apple opens its designs to other manufacturers, like IBM did years ago, and allows for competition, will be the day I fill my home with apple products-

  5. roby Says:

    That should be “its”

    Apple and it’s legal staff

    greed5 (appropriate name!), you’re just cutting off your nose to spite your face! We Mac users–and Apple shareholders– just wish that it were true that they were “what everyone else has”. Hardly!

    In any event, you’re missing out on the fun! In fact, it’s so much fun that Samsung may have figured the easiest way into the party was to copy Apple’s design!

  6. gus Says:

    This judge is a moron. Samsung essentially said that they need to make their product thinner. Since when is making a device thinner a copyright issue?!

    The idea of a computer tablet operating a touchscreen has been around for years before Apple. It’s a sci-fi stable. Permitting Apple to do this is utterly outrageous and of course their own hired guns are going to claim infringement. Inside counsel or not, they’re paid lawyers!

    What a disgrace. Compete on your merits Apple.

  7. gus Says:

    roby, go astroturf somewhere else. You make Apple look smaller with every fawning post attacking people who haven’t tasted the kool-aid.

    Apple makes cool products, but this is not fair competition, it’s using legal obstacles to eliminate fair competition. Exercising total control of the publication of software on a locked-down platform is apparently not enough for Apple. They now want to eliminate competing platforms.

  8. kris Says:

    Apple knows they have a short period of time to dominate the market with their products with technology superiority and now that other companies are catching up with their iPhone and iPad products they are releasing their lawyers to stymie competition that might have lower cost or more readily accessible products with the same technology. Apple’s argument is kin to an automobile company suing another company for using 4 wheels in their car design. This judge must be an Apple fan boy (girl) and I hope she gets run out of the court for this stupid allowance. If like the judge said that Samsung has already released pictures or clayware of their upcoming products she should rule on that instead of forcing Samsung to bring prototypes out that could very easily be released to the public from from freedom of information seeker.

  9. Jeff Says:

    The tablet market was in torpor for years until the development of multi-touch interactive screens made the concept something that could be feasibly carried around. Prior to the iPad, tablets failed because nobody wanted to carry around or interact with a clunky device via stylus. Touch-screens have been around for years (think kiosks), so this in itself wasn’t a new idea, but tracking multiple points on the screen was – I’d be willing to bet Apple didn’t invent this idea, but rather put it in very sleek, light form.

    I like the iPad very much, but think that the idea of the modern tablet was developed akin to ‘steam engine time’: a confluence of technological advances making a new technology possible. Apple did bring significant advances to the idea of the tablet, and they deserve a lot of credit for getting them to market first, but giving them access to a competitors prototypes is ridiculous.

    If Apple believed that they had a superior product they wouldn’t need to engage in legal maneuvers to limit competition, they’d just continue to make the superior product and let consumers choose.

  10. guy pooki Says:

    hmmm… Samsung TABLET…. looks like a tablet, shaped like a tablet, does tablet-y things… must be a copy of an IPAD…

  11. guy pooki Says:

    or… capitalism -> competition is good…

    so when is competition “good competition” and when is it “bad” copying…

    Verizon offers unlimited calling for $100, AT&T then “copies” Verizon and also offers it… is that competition or copying. Sony makes an LCD TV, so Panasonic then also makes one, same 42″ screen, black plastic housing, etc.

    There seems to be no claim of theft of trade secrets here, just copying of look and features, and AFTER the fact… hardly seems like a case with merits…

  12. Mike Says:

    Ford should sue Chevy for making cars with 4 wheels and headlights…oh and a steering wheel. Apple suing Samsung over key features like a “home button” and “black surround” is ridiculous. If that argument holds water then surely Motorola should sue every phone manufacturer for including a screen and buttons on their phones.

  13. McCain-in-4 Says:

    Apple may have a case here. If Samsung bought iPads, opened them up, studied their design and then allowed Apple’s “good ideas” to creep into Samsung’s products, it sounds like Samsung was caught misbehaving.

    Apple has to defend their design (look & feel, and components) in Courts of Law, otherwise what is the point of Research & Development?

  14. Mike Says:


    “defend their design and components”?!

    Samsung makes the damn screen and CPU for the iPads and CPUs for iPhone4. What technology exactly has Samsung be looking for by opening up iPads? The general shape and colour of them? Its flat and black, like every single other smartphone and tablet! Unlike Apple, Samsung is actually an electronics manufacturer, and I dont think there is much Apple could teach them about technology. Apple just contracts everything out or buys in technology.

    Typical Apple illusion of grandeur. Same with the MacBooks (which I own one of) Built with the same components as a typical Dell or Asus. Seagate drives, Intel CPUS, Samsung RAM, all in an Apple branded case. It is no different to a normal laptop, has zero Apple technology, and yet is heralded as ground breaking and different.

  15. EBR Says:

    To McCain-in-4

    Samsung is not misbehaving, they are competing. Buying a competitor’s product, opening it up, and studying its design is the essence of competition. Its called improving a product. That competition is what brings consumers (that’s us) better products at lower prices. The only reason Apple is seeking out the courts is simple: it doesn’t like the competition (no company EVER likes competition). The drug companies do this all the time when one of their patented drugs comes off patent. They litigate to delay the inevitable.

  16. McCain-in-4 Says:

    That is the point for a court to decide.

  17. Friday Says:

    guy pooki,

    Congratulations on possibly single-handedly opening the floodgates of marketing strategy/business process and flat panel design copyright lawsuits. Should be interesting.


  18. rtrader88 Says:

    Skyleach, your comment is a complete misunderstanding of this issue. It is so obvious that Samsung is at fault here. Their R&D is to copy all of Apples product.

    You should sell all your Apple product on Ebay & go buy copycat Samsung products. Apple dont need people like you.

    For your information Apple is not trying to gain points. They are protecting their investments & the money they put into R&D.

  19. Tshade Says:

    How is Samsung copying? They build the damn iPads and iPhones! They make the components! Apple is copying them, by USING SAMSUNG PRODUCTS in APPLE PRODUCTS!

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