SAN FRANCISCO — Samsung’s trial team pulled out a big gun, John Quinn, in its showdown with Apple. But Quinn, it seems, has only managed to provoke the ire of U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh.
He pushed Koh hard enough to get yelled at, then OK’d a press release that has him fending off threats of sanctions.
The Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan managing partner was forced on Wednesday to file a declaration defending his decision to share evidence with reporters covering the patent trial in Koh’s San Jose court.
Quinn said he authorized the release, containing links to evidence that Koh previously blocked the jury from hearing, in response to media requests. Samsung Electronics says the evidence is critical in defending against Apple Inc.’s claims that the Galaxy smartphone ripped off the iPhone.
Quinn denied any wrongdoing.
Samsung “did not violate any court order or any legal or ethical standards,” Quinn wrote in his six-page declaration.
The filing came after Koh on Tuesday learned that Samsung had put out the public statement. When the jury cleared out for the day, Apple lead counsel Harold McElhinny from Morrison & Foerster alerted Koh to the media statement. A visibly upset McElhinny claimed it was a blatant attempt to influence the jury and suggested it could be considered contempt of court.
Koh demanded to know who authorized the statement and asked to speak to Quinn personally. But by that time, he was already on his way back to Los Angeles. Quinn only made a cameo before Koh that morning. His partners are trying the case.
Quinn had angered Koh earlier in the day when he begged her to reconsider her previous decision to block exhibits of Samsung mobile phones that were designed before the iPhone was introduced.
When Koh declined, Quinn persisted. “Don’t make me sanction you,” Koh snapped. When he continued to press his case, she finally told him to please sit down, which he did.
That afternoon, a spokeswoman for Samsung Electronics sent out the statement to reporters pointing them to the disputed evidence, saying that “fundamental fairness requires that the jury decide the case based on all the evidence.”
The evidence included transcripts of an interview with an Apple designer that mentioned Sony’s Walkman design. Samsung contends that Apple’s iPhone design isn’t as unique as the company claims, and that Apple copied elements of Sony’s products when designing the iPhone.
In defending himself, Quinn turned to some of Koh’s own words about transparency. The “United States district court is a public institution,” he quoted her as saying in a prior ruling.
“Far from violating any order, Samsung’s transmission to the public is entirely consistent with this court’s statements,” he wrote.
Quinn said his own honor was at stake, too.
“Apple’s counsel publicly and unfairly called my personal reputation into question and have resulted in media reports likewise falsely impugning me personally,” he wrote.
But Apple isn’t done.
William Lee, a Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr partner who is on Apple’s trial team, said he intends to file an emergency motion for sanctions. Lee, who is defending against Samsung’s counterclaims of patent infringement, said Quinn’s declaration does not provide the full text of the statement. Nor does it say who drafted and released it, as Koh had requested.
“Samsung’s multiple references to the jury in its statement make plain its intent that the jurors in our case learn of arguments the court has excluded through the press,” Lee wrote.
Trial is set to resume Friday.