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Samsung argues some of Apple's legal team should be disqualified

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
In its ongoing legal battle with Apple, Samsung has asked a court to disqualify at least some of Apple's legal team, alleging a conflict of interest.

The latest twist was revealed in a new 20-page motion filed by Samsung and discovered by Florian Mueller at FOSS Patents. In it, Samsung asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to disqualify some, or potentially all, of Apple's legal team due to an alleged conflict of interest.

"The gist of it is that Samsung wants the recently-founded law firm of Bridges & Mavrakakis barred from the case because at least five of its lawyers -- including one of its founders, Kenneth Bridges -- previously represented Samsung while they were with another firm, Kirkland & Ellis," Mueller wrote.

"Samsung then goes on to argue that this fact 'taints all attorneys at Bridges & Mavrakakis through imputation.'"

The filing then goes on to demand that the two other firms involved with the suit -- Morrison & Foerester and Wilmer Hale -- provide affidavits confirming they have not received "confidential information" about Samsung from the other attorneys at Bridges & Mavrakakis.

Apple's attorneys reportedly believe that there is no conflict of interest because their prior representation with Samsung was not "substantially related" to the current conflict, in which Apple has accused Samsung of copying the look and feel of devices like the iPhone and iPad. The attorneys said that any confidential information from their previous arrangement will not play a part in the current conflict with Apple

"Samsung, however, argues that the relevant legal criterion is not whether they intended to use that information but whether they have obtained it in the first place," Mueller wrote. He added in his analysis that it's possible "someone might have made an error in judgment somewhere."

The latest development in the ongoing legal battle comes as Apple's chief patent lawyer is set to leave the company within the next month. Though both stories broke on Tuesday, there is no indication that they are in any way related.

Richard "Chip" Lutton Jr. is expected to leave Apple soon as chief patent counsel and vice president. He has been replaced in that role by B.J. Watrous, former deputy general counsel at Hewlett Packard.

While Samsung is now using corporate secrets for its defense, Apple has touted its own secrecy in previous filings made in the ongoing dispute.

Apple requested in court to see prototypes of Samsung's forthcoming, already-announced hardware, and Samsung responded in kind, asking the court to see Apple's next-generation iPhone and iPad. But Apple noted that the products it requested to see -- including a Samsung Galaxy S II -- have already been announced, while its own future products are shrouded in secrecy until they are publicly announced.
post #2 of 44
Can't win the actual argument? Ignore it and just go after the people behind the other side!

post #3 of 44
Something tells me that lawyers on both sides are just milking their clients at $500/hr per attorney, without really trying to resolve anything.

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post #4 of 44
That makes Apple's claims sound potentially even more relevant coming from an IP perspective. Yikes. They could be compelled to testify anyway....if there is the potential Samsung says there is.
post #5 of 44
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post #6 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post

LOL - maybe Apple's new hires are still working for Samsung.

Or were always working for Apple ...
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post #7 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post

That makes Apple's claims sound potentially even more relevant coming from an IP perspective. Yikes. They could be compelled to testify anyway....if there is the potential Samsung says there is.

This.

So far Samsung has done very little except try to dodge the issue.
post #8 of 44
TIme wasting - they're dragging their heels.
post #9 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post

LOL - maybe Apple's new hires are still working for Samsung.

That's actually what 'conflict of interest' implies here. It's really a bizarre claim.
post #10 of 44
Seems like a silly argument.

One could POSSIBLY argue that attorneys who previously worked for Samsung should not be used, but to argue that no one in the same firm could ever be used is absurd. Someone could simply retain one attorney at each of the top 100 law firms and all the competitors would be out of luck.

Not to mention that virtually every lawyer would be barred from ever taking a case if that type of relationship were a hindrance. See the six (or is it five or three or seven) degrees of Kevin Bacon.
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post #11 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Something tells me that lawyers on both sides are just milking their clients at $500/hr per attorney, without really trying to resolve anything.

I would guess it's 3 or 4 times that much /hour. $500/hr is for the cheap ones.
post #12 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Snitch View Post

That's actually what 'conflict of interest' implies here. It's really a bizarre claim.

It may be a conflict of interest but one of the partner of this firm worked as...

Director of Patent Strategy at Apple Inc before founding this firm...

http://bridgesmav.com/bio_mav.html
post #13 of 44
Wait... they're arguing the opposing attorneys should be disqualified because they might not be giving a 100%?

The opposing attorneys?

It's the Chewbacca Defence!
post #14 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by foobar View Post

Wait... they're arguing the opposing attorneys should be disqualified because they might not be giving a 100%?

Mmmmm, no?
post #15 of 44
Who cares? More iPhone 5 rumors, please.
post #16 of 44
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post #17 of 44
Judge: Why do you want these attorneys disqualified from representing Apple?

Samsung: There is a very serious conflict of interest which must be eliminated at once.

Judge: What is this conflict of interest? And why is it so urgent to deal with it now?

Samsung: We transferred them to Apple to learn all about iPhone 5 and iPad HD. They are supposed to send us drawings and bill of materials.

Judge: So?

Samsung: Your honor must have heard iPhone 5 and iPad HD will be released in the fall. The time to learn about these products is now. Being occupied in this case, these attorneys will not be spending enough time at Apple to find out everything we need for our November product launch.

Judge: I see. Nice black turtleneck, BTW.
post #18 of 44
So these lawyers that worked for Samsung have seen or heard stuff that Samsung would be worried about?!...

Easy fix. Apple, hire a new law team and go to court shouting "Discovery! Discovery! Discovery!" for the lawyers replaced (to the tune of "Developers! Developers! Developers!"
/
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post #19 of 44
Are there any actual attorneys posting here who really understand what is going on?

Didn't think so.
post #20 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Can't win the actual argument? Ignore it and just go after the people behind the other side!


When you've actually worked in the legal field long enough, you'll know there's often more to the story.
post #21 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Something tells me that lawyers on both sides are just milking their clients at $500/hr per attorney, without really trying to resolve anything.

In big law, $500/hr is generous. Try $1,000-$1,300/hr.

Not that I'm a fan of high billing.
post #22 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelligent View Post

Judge: Why do you want these attorneys disqualified from representing Apple?

Samsung: There is a very serious conflict of interest which must be eliminated at once.

Judge: What is this conflict of interest? And why is it so urgent to deal with it now?

Samsung: We transferred them to Apple to learn all about iPhone 5 and iPad HD. They are supposed to send us drawings and bill of materials.

Judge: So?

Samsung: Your honor must have heard iPhone 5 and iPad HD will be released in the fall. The time to learn about these products is now. Being occupied in this case, these attorneys will not be spending enough time at Apple to find out everything we need for our November product launch.

Judge: I see. Nice black turtleneck, BTW.


Funny, but do we know whether Samsung actually sent its own in-house counsel to work for Apple, or are you just obfuscating the facts?


Just askin' an honest question.
post #23 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimDreamworx View Post

Are there any actual attorneys posting here who really understand what is going on?

Didn't think so.

I think we'd actually need to read the pleadings/motions filed by both sides to get a much better idea of what's been going down in the law offices. My impression is Apple's higher-ups hired one or more big law firms that had previously been known for winning big-ticket IP law cases. Whether or not they deliberately chose lawyers who'd done work for Samsung in previous cases is not clear.

Lawyers are like mercenaries. When you cut out public interest and pro bono attorneys, the rest offer their skills to whoever pays top dollar, so it's not all that surprising that Samsung was a former client of Apple's current attorneys. I can see where Samsung's going in terms of trying to screen out opposing attorneys with special knowledge that might unfairly bias the case against them. One lawyer I interned for years ago was dismissed from a civil case by the judge because he had special knowledge that might have skewed the case. 'Twas a real shame seeing how it was a $475,000 case.

I don't have Apple's initial complaint or Samsung's reply motions on hand, but I think we can safely say Samsung's goal isn't exactly to prevent Apple from finding IP attorneys to represent them. You can bet your arse there are plenty of other IP attorneys reviewing this case and would be jumping up and down if Apple were to dump their current attorneys and hire them instead. Street cred counts for a lot, especially in this economy.

TL;DR - Let's wait until we hear more before screaming that Samsung is planting attorneys on Apple's side to act as spies who'll act in their favor. Even pressing aside the implausibility of such a claim, doing anything even remotely similar could get you disbarred.
post #24 of 44
"in the current conflict with Apple"

Typo -There's no period at the end of the sentence.
post #25 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by foobar View Post

Wait... they're arguing the opposing attorneys should be disqualified because they might not be giving a 100%?

The opposing attorneys?

It's the Chewbacca Defence!

Exactly. They're concerned that Apple's attorneys won't give their all in representing Apple's interests.

This is how the legal process works - in the Bizarro World.

Apple attorney: 'Your dishonor! My client am guilty as sin! Him copy Samsung designs after Samsung copies him!'
Samsung attorney: 'Us object, and insist on paying big fines! Plus, us steal Steve Jobs' underwear!'
post #26 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Snitch View Post

Exactly. They're concerned that Apple's attorneys won't give their all in representing Apple's interests.

This is how the legal process works - in the Bizarro World.

Or, Samsung think that 'confidential information' they have conveyed to these lawyers under privilege - lawyers now presently engaged by Apple - might be compromised and provide an unfair advantage to Apple's case. Pays to read the OP.

OT: There are cases where the same firm represents both side of a claim, or represent litigants competing in the same field. A "Chinese Wall" is set up to protect information from leaking between the sides.

That is not the same situation as here, but it highlights the need for client to be protected by privilege.
post #27 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by djsherly View Post

Or, Samsung think that 'confidential information' they have conveyed to these lawyers under privilege - lawyers now presently engaged by Apple - might be compromised and provide an unfair advantage to Apple's case. Pays to read the OP.

If that is what they believe, it is not a 'conflict of interest' as the article alleges.

However, again if that is what they believe, they are alleging that their former council will behave unethically. That could be a tough sell, since anyone 'might' act unethically.
post #28 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by djsherly View Post

Or, Samsung think that 'confidential information' they have conveyed to these lawyers under privilege - lawyers now presently engaged by Apple - might be compromised and provide an unfair advantage to Apple's case. Pays to read the OP.

OT: There are cases where the same firm represents both side of a claim, or represent litigants competing in the same field. A "Chinese Wall" is set up to protect information from leaking between the sides.

That is not the same situation as here, but it highlights the need for client to be protected by privilege.


Clients are likely to divulge information freely to their attorneys only if they're protected by attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine in present and future cases. Both doctrines facilitate litigation and ensure that as much information as possible is presented and used to help both sides cut deals and get the overall process moving along.


If it's true that those attorneys in question have confidential information that falls into either category and would work against Samsung, then they have to be removed. But again, it's not clear what kind of information is under concern. Did Samsung sign an agreement with these attorneys not to represent their adversaries in future cases? Does the AC privilege and WP doctrine protect the kind of information they're worried might get used against them? If so, would the judge reviewing this information be willing to remove Apple's attorneys? These are all fundamental questions the judge will have to consider.


And the "Chinese Wall" principle depends on the jurisdiction where the complaint was filed. Some US states ban law firms from litigating for both sides.
post #29 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by djsherly View Post

Or, Samsung think that 'confidential information' they have conveyed to these lawyers under privilege - lawyers now presently engaged by Apple - might be compromised and provide an unfair advantage to Apple's case. Pays to read the OP.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Snitch View Post

If that is what they believe, it is not a 'conflict of interest' as the article alleges.

I'm curious. I'm not fully familiar with the facts of the case. I haven't read any interrogatories filed by either side, seen any declarations, or attended any of the depositions. I'm under the impression most people here haven't done any of the above. Would you care to enlighten us as to how you know there would be no prejudice against Samsung if Samsung's allegations are true?

A sincere question as you just state a naked conclusion with no factual support.

Quote:
However, again if that is what they believe, they are alleging that their former council will behave unethically. That could be a tough sell, since anyone 'might' act unethically.

Again, how do you know this? You do realize the concern is that the mere act of utilizing protected information is unethical per rules of civil procedure and ABA guidelines? Do you have access to any of the pleadings and discovery files that none of us have?

Are you an IP attorney with intimate knowledge of the facts, a psychic with a crystal ball, or just another rabid Apple fanboy/armchair expert? If so, I'd be really excited to hear more from you.

post #30 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Snitch View Post

That's actually what 'conflict of interest' implies here. It's really a bizarre claim.

As I understand it, Samsung is saying that at least a couple of Apple's current lawyers used to work for the company that reps Samsung and as such they might have access to things they normally wouldn't have or things they might have given to Apple.

So like there could be a smoking gun basically saying that Samsung blatantly and knowingly made their stuff just like Apple. Or perhaps they did or could leak future plans to Apple so Apple can release it first and claim Samsung copied it or some other nonsense.

Apple is basically that it's too huge a maybe/perhaps and that the people involved didn't do related tasks when they were at Samsung (they did contract reviews with buyers or some other non IP stuff) so what's the issue.

Personally I think that Samsung needs a bit more proof to back up their claims. It seems a bit weak, especially if they were coming from a huge firm as it sounds they were. But we'll see what the judge says

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post #31 of 44
I don't see how Apple's lawyers would be legally barred from whatever representation of Apple.

If Samsung believes these attys are engaging in illegal conduct, by all means Samsung should file suit or file complaints. But if not, then STFU... such attys should certainly help Apple in all legally and ethically permissible ways.
post #32 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by tjwal View Post

I would guess it's 3 or 4 times that much /hour. $500/hr is for the cheap ones.

So it's worse than I thought.

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post #33 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

As I understand it, Samsung is saying that at least a couple of Apple's current lawyers used to work for the company that reps Samsung and as such they might have access to things they normally wouldn't have or things they might have given to Apple.

So like there could be a smoking gun basically saying that Samsung blatantly and knowingly made their stuff just like Apple. Or perhaps they did or could leak future plans to Apple so Apple can release it first and claim Samsung copied it or some other nonsense.

Apple is basically that it's too huge a maybe/perhaps and that the people involved didn't do related tasks when they were at Samsung (they did contract reviews with buyers or some other non IP stuff) so what's the issue.

Personally I think that Samsung needs a bit more proof to back up their claims. It seems a bit weak, especially if they were coming from a huge firm as it sounds they were. But we'll see what the judge says

From Ars Technica:

Quote:
According to Samsung's motion, filed on Monday, five attorneys who work for the law firm Bridges & Mavrakakis previously represented Samsung in a patent lawsuit while working for a different law firm. One of the patents asserted against Apple was also asserted against Sony Ericsson in that previous suit. Furthermore, attorney Kenneth Bridges "was in charge of the day-to-day operation of that case and was intimately involved in high level strategy discussions with Samsung representatives," according to Samsung.

http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/20...f-interest.ars
post #34 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by bwik View Post

I don't see how Apple's lawyers would be legally barred from whatever representation of Apple.

If Samsung believes these attys are engaging in illegal conduct, by all means Samsung should file suit or file complaints. But if not, then STFU... such attys should certainly help Apple in all legally and ethically permissible ways.

Thank God the court system isn't determined by the way some fanboy thinks it "should" be allowed to run.

Never mind that irrational emotions based off of brand loyalty won't determine the outcome.
post #35 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwydion View Post

From Ars Technica:


According to Samsung's motion, filed on Monday, five attorneys who work for the law firm Bridges & Mavrakakis previously represented Samsung in a patent lawsuit while working for a different law firm. One of the patents asserted against Apple was also asserted against Sony Ericsson in that previous suit. Furthermore, attorney Kenneth Bridges "was in charge of the day-to-day operation of that case and was intimately involved in high level strategy discussions with Samsung representatives," according to Samsung.


http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/20...f-interest.ars


Work Product Doctrine defined. Good article.


Maybe it's because I don't have a horse in this race. But is it just me, or are people here suddenly trying to talk like tenured judges and law firm partners?

Hmmmm. If a 14-year-old teeny bopper is able to prescribe here what a judge or IP lawyers can or cannot do, it makes me wonder what all the past generations of lawyers have been doing by wasting 3 years going to law school and another 8-10 years pursuing the partner track or some other alternative path. They could easily gain their legal education by trolling *cough cough* I mean posting insightful 1-sentence posts on AppleInsider. I mean, if a 14-year-old knows what a lawyer should do...isn't this right?



But here's the part that confuses me. Lawyers are normally the butt of lawyer jokes. What's going on here? Now people here are rooting for Apple's litigation team like they're the Boston Red Sox!

I'll say. Either hell has frozen over, or the world has turned upside down!

post #36 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack99 View Post

Thank God the court system isn't determined by the way some fanboy thinks it "should" be allowed to run.

Never mind that irrational emotions based off of brand loyalty won't determine the outcome.

So you're saying what exactly, pumpkin? Apple can't hire lawyers unless Samsung approves? I didn't hear a legal argument but perhaps you have one?
post #37 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by bwik View Post

So you're saying what exactly, pumpkin? Apple can't hire lawyers unless Samsung approves? I didn't hear a legal argument but perhaps you have one?


Legal argument? You pose a leading question by asking me "Are you saying Apple can't hire lawyers unless Samsung says so?" First, let me state that your question grossly mischaracterizes the question posed in the AppleInsider article and only shows me you don't really have a clue as to what's going on. The reason you misread the article as well as my posts and misperceived that I'm making such an argument is simply because your own blatant Apple obsession is coloring your reading comprehension skills--or lack thereof.



If it's unclear to you, let me spell it out for you so it's more understandable:

It's all up to how the judge presiding over this case sees the information and the motion to block the five attorneys from representing Apple (NOTE: I did not state or imply it's based on how I myself perceive it). If the judge concludes the documents the 5 attorneys have accumulated while doing work for Samsung in previous cases are truly protected under work product doctrine and likely to prejudice the case against Samsung unfairly, then yes, he will grant Samsung's request to have those attorneys removed.


I sincerely apologize, but that's how the legal system runs in America. Like it or not, the justices running the Northern District of California and the attorneys who bring cases to them don't base their motions and memos upon childish iOS vs Android debates which I'm afraid you seem to be thinking this is. Again, I don't have a horse in this race. I'm actually just as curious as everyone what the outcome will be. This won't be the first time I've seen lawyers get dismissed from cases because of their past possession of information that might have tainted the case itself.



So was that too much for you, "Pumpkin?" Do you have any special knowledge of this case that you'd like to enlighten us with? Do you have any "legal arguments" you'd like to take stabs at making?


EDIT: Oh, I see what's going on. I replied to your other posts and pointed out how poorly misinformed you were, so you've got your panties in a wad. You didn't even bother to rebut the fact I stated, which is that the law isn't governed by a fanboy's perception of how it should be.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bwik View Post

I don't see how Apple's lawyers would be legally barred from whatever representation of Apple.

If Samsung believes these attys are engaging in illegal conduct, by all means Samsung should file suit or file complaints. But if not, then STFU... such attys should certainly help Apple in all legally and ethically permissible ways.

Wrong, the burden of proof is on Samsung in the early stages of litigation to get those attorneys removed if their involvement is unethical and in the eyes of the judge at the procedural stage, likely to taint the case. Samsung cannot file a separate complaint against Apple now or after the case is resolved just because it failed to get the lawyers out of the picture. Complaints are filed against human beings, corporations, and associations for causes of action. Apple's current attorneys, even if involved unethically, wouldn't have a cause of action for which Samsung could file a complaint against them. Regardless, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure penalize laziness and reward prompt action. Samsung's legal team is simply trying to play this card at the only time it can play it. That way, the appeals system isn't abused to death.
post #38 of 44
A friend of my mine was basically screwed in court as a result of a number of conflicts of interested. First the case should have been a civil case - breach of contract - but somehow it became a felony case of fraud. Second the first attorney assigned to the case had to excuse himself because he was already the legal counsel for several of the plaintiffs in the case. Third, the second attorney assigned to his case also had to ex excuse himself because he was related to one of the plaintiffs. Fourth, the last attorney assigned to his case did almost no discovery and apparently did not even attempt to find witnesses on his behalf. Fifth, the DA and the Judge and one of the Plaintiffs in the case were all related to each other (or maybe it was just the DA and a Plaintiff and the Judge was up for reelection, something like that). Sixth, he was basically convicted in the media before the case even began. He decided to plea bargain as it seemed unlikely that there was any possibility of a fair trial. While incarcerated and in the prison infirmary with end stage liver disease he was attacked by another inmate and nearly suffocated.

He was guilty of making some bad decisions and as a result people did lose money, and they were understandably not happy about that - and from their perspective it is easy to see how it is nearly impossibly to determine whether or not his intent from the beginning was legitimate or not - since the end result is they lost money and were not provided with the service they contracted him to perform - the media case basically involved where did all the money go with a large focus on the house he was living in and running his business from, which the media conveniently neglected to mention that due to some legal wrangling between the builder and the bank and the city was not legal ready for occupation so he had not yet made a payment even though he was living there and doing some of the finishing work himself (door locks and faucets, etc) - but he was not guilty of committing fraud, a simple fact that is almost impossible to get for the public records and or the media coverage.

The point is that in any legal proceeding there are likely just as many things going on behind the scenes or indirectly or which are not stated as plainly or as clearly as they could be. And don't forget that our legal system is not about justice for all - or uncovering the truth - it is an adversarial system whereby each side is trying to get the best deal it can for its client. While there may be procedures and laws etc in place to prevent perjury - I don't think I have ever heard of any legal precedent baring the extensive use of obfuscation.
post #39 of 44
This is looking like it's going to become an all-out war between the two companies. Pardon my fandom, but I'm getting to the point where I would like to see Apple absolutely crush Samsung in this case. The legal arguments are far beyond my pay grade, but from a common sense standpoint, Samsung copied the shit out of Apple's products. It's not even a question. Now, as the brother of an IP Lawyer and former U.S. Patent Examiner, I know that it's so much more complicated than that, it's not even funny. But from the consumer's point of view? That's a different matter.
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post #40 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post

This is looking like it's going to become an all-out war between the two companies. Pardon my fandom, but I'm getting to the point where I would like to see Apple absolutely crush Samsung in this case. The legal arguments are far beyond my pay grade, but from a common sense standpoint, Samsung copied the shit out of Apple's products. It's not even a question. Now, as the brother of an IP Lawyer and former U.S. Patent Examiner, I know that it's so much more complicated than that, it's not even funny. But from the consumer's point of view? That's a different matter.

How do you know Samsung copied from Apple products? You are like one of rare public who say 'Sammy copied from Apple', if you are not from Apple.

Look! obviously Sammy got design ideas from IPhones, but they did not copy. Apple's accusation against Sammy 'Look and feel' is absolutely rubbish to me.

I have read somewhere that Sammy is saying Apple infringed technologies patented by Sammy in more than 10 cases. If that is true, then Apple copied Samsung, not the other way around. Sammy also must have helped Apple in mobile device sector a lot, and Sammy is one of the key players in Apples recent success.

I can imagine what Sammy felt when apple publically said 'Copycat', 'Slashly copied' against Sammy. If I were Sammy, I would end the relationship and kill Apple off for their betrayal.

Just my thought.
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