Last October, Apple filed a motion seeking sanctions against Samsung and its outside lawyers, accusing both of unlawfully obtaining sensitive data about Apple's 2011 patent license agreement with Nokia. Samsung responded to the allegations by filing three motions intended to slow the investigation. However, those motions were denied by Judge Lucy Koh, who also proceeded to call Samsung's lack of information about the alleged violation "inexcusable."
Now, FOSS Patents reports that Judge Paul S. Grewal yesterday ruled against imposing sanctions on Samsung, instead choosing to solely penalize its law firm, Quinn Emanuel. By Judge Grewal's order, Quinn Emanuel will be required to reimburse Apple, Nokia, and their legal counsel for all costs and fees incurred during the litigation.
Judge Grewal also explained why some further-reaching and more dramatic sanctions proposed by Apple and Nokia were not appropriate:
The vast majority of these are ludicrously overbroad, such as the suggestion that both Samsung and Quinn Emanuel should be banned from any situation in which they might make use of licensing information for the next two years. Although the evidence has shown Quinn Emanuel failed to notify the relevant parties at the relevant times, and that [Samsung in-house lawyer Daniel] Shim made use of the information, there has been insufficient evidence that this failure to notify or misuse ultimately implicated any issue in this or any other litigation or negotiation.
The decision by Judge Grewal can be appealed to Judge Koh and then on to the Federal Circuit if necessary, where Apple or Nokia could attempt to win additional sanctions. Samsung cannot appeal any part of the decision further as it was not sanctioned.
The ruling comes as a second patent infringement lawsuit between Apple and Samsung is set to begin on March 31, 2014. Notably, Samsung will only have four patents claims to bring to the upcoming trial, as Judge Koh invalidated two of its patent claims last week. Both companies will also partake in a trial centered around Apple's new call for a U.S. ban on Samsung products set for January 30.