Smoking gun documents could hurt Samsung at Apple patent trial
If an All Things Digital report is right, Samsung has left a trail of smoking gun documents that show it knowingly copied the iPad and iPhone designs. If these documents are presented in court, it could go a long way toward proving Apple's contention that Samsung copied it.
According to the article, the documents could include such damaging items as Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) warning Samsung that its designs were too similar to Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) products, as well as documents that purport to show that even Samsung's own design group wrote that "it was regrettable that the Galaxy S "looks similar" to older iPhone models." Ouch.
If you want to see just how similar, check out this article from Apple Insider, which shows pictures of Samsung products next to the corresponding Apple ones. And you have to admit, they look eerily similar.
Whether you agree with Apple's case or not--and some have contended that perhaps we should agree that there is a basic tablet and smartphone design and we should go from there--even the most sympathetic to Samsung's case have to admit the documents outlined in the All Things Digital article have to be extremely damaging to Samsung's hopes in this case.
Of course, it's worth noting that all of this could be taken out of context and Samsung's lawyers will have a chance to minimize the potential damage of these documents in court. We shall have to wait and see the extent of the actual damage.
But it's yet another cautionary tale about good document management. Certainly, you can make an argument that you should save all documents from the design process for historical purposes, but you can also argue that with a smart retention policy at Samsung, if it were legal to do so, these documents might not be available for Apple's lawyers anymore.
As in all of these cases, you have to balance common sense with historical requirements, and keep in mind our highly litigious society.
Sometimes a strong corporate policy around document creation, retention and destruction can help prevent these types of damaging documents from ever being brought to light in a case like this.
If you aren't required to save documents by law, and you don't feel like they are integral to your company history--and most importantly, that you are not part of a lawsuit and eDiscovery request related to those documents--then perhaps you should consider applying those corporate policies.
For Samsung, it's much too late at this point, but if the All Things Digital story is even close to accurate, it's a lesson for every company about document retention that you would be wise to heed.
- see the All Things Digital article