Apple has won a victory in one of its myriad patent infringement lawsuits against Samsung, as a judge ruled that Samsung violated a court order by failing to hand certain documents over to Apple during the discovery process. The documents apparently deal with specific products made by Apple, and Samsung has failed to hand them over despite two orders to do so.
According to Bloomberg, U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal issued the third order yesterday. While Grewal acknowledged "the burden placed upon [Samsung] by the compressed case schedule and the numerous claims at issue," he said that the company is not excused from its "obligation to comply" with the courts instructions.
As part of yesterday's order, Grewal also imposed several monetary sanctions on Samsung, pursuant to Apple's earlier requests. Other sanctions, however, were denied. A Samsung spokesperson promised that the company would "respond in accordance with the court's order and produce the requested documentation within the timeframe provided."
Apple filed suit in the U.S. in April of last year following the release of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1. Apple's suit alleged that the Galaxy Tab and some of Samsung's Galaxy smartphones copied the design of Apple's iPhone and iPad. Following Apple's initial suit, Samsung countersued in the U.S. and then filed its own patent infringement suits against Apple in several other countries. At present the fracas consists of over 20 suits in 10 countries.
The U.S. suit, which was filed first, has progressed the farthest and is nearing a trial date. Last week, as part of the proceeding, the two companies were ordered to meet and discuss the possibility of reaching a settlement before taking the case to trial.
With the change in leadership at Apple following the death of Steve Jobs last year, many have wondered whether Apple's stance on lawsuits such as this one would change. Jobs was famously unforgiving in such matters, while Tim Cook seems far less fierce. During Apple's quarterly earnings call yesterday, Cook was asked about his stance on continuing litigation. While he said that dislikes litigation, he also said that "we just want people to invent their own stuff," and stressed that he did not want Apple to "become the developer for the world." While he might be more inclined to settle certain suits than his predecessor, Cook said that such settlements would not be possible unless he could be assured that the infringement on Apple's intellectual property would stop, and that Apple would be properly compensated for past infringement.
Given Cook's response yesterday and Samsung's generally entrenched attitude concerning the situation, it doesn't look like that a settlement will be reached before the case goes to trial.