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U.S. court denies Samsung request for documents to be used against Apple in Japan suit

Samsung sought documents and physical examples of Apple's original iPhone.

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California court Judge Paul S. Grewal on Wednesday handed down a ruling denying Samsung's request for documents from the Apple v. Samsung patent trial, which the company planned to use as proof-gathering in a separate patent case currently underway in Japan.

Judge Grewal's decision comes one day after Bloomberg reported that the Korean company asked to use documents from the landmark patent suit, currently in post-trial proceedings, toward discovery in similar patent litigation being heard in Japan. Apple opposed the motion, saying that Samsung is attempting to sidestep normal Japanese court procedures.

From the ruling:

In an effort to prevent entanglement in the foreign dispute between the parties and out of respect for the Japanese tribunal before which a parallel request is currently pending, the court DENIES Samsung's request for the discovery WITHOUT PREJUDICE to a renewed request after the Tokyo district court has had an opportunity to decide the exact same request before it.
In its request, Samsung sought evidence regarding iPhone sales before June 2007 as well as physical examples of Apple's handset, including the iPhone Steve Jobs used to introduce the smartphone' at MacWorld 2007 and the iPhone used in a video posted to Apple’s website.

While the U.S. court has the authority to issue the subpoena, it is not mandated to do so. Judge Grewal cited a Supreme Court ruling that identified the following four key factors a court should consider in granting such a request: "(1) whether the material sought is within the foreign tribunal’s jurisdictional reach and thus accessible absent Section 1782 aid; (2) the nature of the foreign tribunal, the character of the proceedings underway abroad, and the receptivity of the foreign government or the court or agency abroad to U.S. federal-court jurisdictional assistance; (3) whether the Section 1782 request conceals an attempt to circumvent foreign proof-gathering restrictions or other policies of a foreign country or the United States; and (4) whether the subpoena contains unduly intrusive or burdensome requests."

Judge Grewal pointed out Samsung's request did not meet the first three discretionary factors that would support a furnishing of the documents. The lone factor supporting a subpoena, being an adequately limited discovery request, is rendered moot as the same request for discovery is pending in Japan.

Samsung may refile its request once the Japanese court reaches a decision.