The U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, granted in part Apple’s request for an adverse jury instruction in its ongoing battle with Samsung. See Apple, Inc. v. Samsung Elecs. Ltd., Case No. C 11-1846, Dkt. No. 895 (N.D. Cal. July 24, 2012). In doing so, the court found that Samsung did not take adequate steps to avoid spoliation of evidence by electing not to disable the “auto-delete” function of its email system.
Apple argued, and the court agreed, that litigation was “reasonably foreseeable” when Apple delivered to Samsung a comprehensive summary of its specific patent infringement claims against Samsung products, not when Apple filed its complaint. Samsung had a duty to preserve relevant evidence upon receiving this notice, yet kept its auto delete policy of emails in place. The court found that Samsung acted with a “‘conscious disregard’ of its obligations” in failing to halt its biweekly automatic destruction policy. The court found that “Samsung never checked whether even a single Samsung custodian was at all in compliance with the given directives, while at all times the 14-day destruction policy was in place.” While the record did not establish that Samsung acted in bad faith, the court noted that bad faith is not the required mental state for the relief Apple sought. Samsung’s actions were “more than sufficient to show willfulness”.
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