Apple and Nokia battled patent disputes in court for a long time and ultimately Apple agreed to license certain Nokia patents. The exact terms of that license agreement were confidential and closely held by both Apple and Nokia. However, during the legal battle between Apple and Samsung those documents were presented to attorneys handling the case as part of their normal preparatory paperwork.
Sources are indicating that at least 50 Samsung executives were able to gain access to the highly confidential licensing terms between Apple and Nokia. While those documents were legally provided to Samsung’s counsel during the trial, the documents were not supposed to go any further than the attorney’s eyes.
A court order was filed as part of the Apple versus Samsung court battle where Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal outlined the situation and noted that Apple and possibly Nokia are wanting sanctions against Samsung. According to Judge Grewal, some Samsung licensing executives were able to lay hands on a non-redacted version of court documents containing sensitive and proprietary licensing information.
The problem with Samsung executives getting their hands on that document is that it contains information that could be used against other companies as an unfair negotiation tactic. The same Samsung executives allegedly used the information against Nokia during a licensing negotiation on June 4, 2013. Nokia Chief Intellectual Property Officer Paul Melin says that Samsung executive Dr. Seungho Ahn said during negotiations that he was aware of the confidential agreement between Apple and Nokia and used that knowledge to unfair advantage. Samsung’s attorneys in the case reportedly sent the company a draft report created by expert witness Dr. David J. Teece that outline “key terms each of the four Apple license agreements” with Nokia, Ericsson, Sharp, and Phillips.
The court order said:
Specifically, according to Mr. Melin, Dr. Ahn stated that Apple had produced the Apple-Nokia license in its litigation with Samsung, and that Samsung’s outside counsel had provided his team with the terms of the Apple-Nokia license. Mr. Melin recounts that to prove to Nokia that he knew the confidential terms of the Apple-Nokia license, Dr. Ahn recited the terms of the license, and even went so far as to tell Nokia that “all information leaks.”