Paul Grewal

Judge: Sanction for Samsung's leak of Apple secrets is public shaming

January 30, 2014: 8:27 AM ET

That and legal costs are the price it pays for violating a U.S. federal court's protective order.

Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee

Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee

FORTUNE -- U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal was furious.

Details of a patent licensing deal between Apple (AAPL) and Nokia (NOK) that were turned over to Samsung's outside counsel with an agreement -- protected by court order -- that they would absolutely, positively never be seen by Samsung itself -- turned up in the hands of a Samsung licensing executive who told a shocked Nokia executive: "all information leaks."

"A casual observer might reasonably wonder," Judge Grewal wrote in October, "what magic a protective order works that allows outside counsel access to confidential information to advance the case without countenancing untoward uses by the client.

"The answer is not a magical one at all: confidential information remains confidential because counsel and clients alike follow court orders. If parties breach this basic rule, the court's assurances become meaningless."

Apple and Nokia had demanded tough sanctions against Samsung and its outside counsel, Quinn Emanuel. On Wednesday, Judge Grewel delivered his answer: His "public findings of wrongdoing" -- plus court costs -- would be "sufficient both to remedy Apple and Nokia's harm and to discourage similar conduct in the future."

To the judge, in his courtroom, a public finding of wrongdoing probably seems like a big deal. Outside the court, where most people live, his admonishment is likely to get lost.

So in the spirit of Judge Grewal's order -- to "discourage similar conduct in the future" -- I've reposted below a partial record of Samsung extra legal activities compiled in October from public documents by reader TeeJay2000.


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