Opinion: If you can't win, cheat. The Samsung/Apple story

Samsung will stop at nothing in its war with Apple [AAPL]: questionable design ethics; FRAND abuse and gamed benchmark scores are now joined by misuse of confidential legal documents as the Android army's leading light goes thermonuclear in its battle with iOS.


[ABOVE: Taken from an Apple presentation in 2011, it is interesting to reflect "where are they now"?]

Plausible deniability

How else should anybody see it on news that at least fifty highly-placed Samsung employees had access to highly confidential Apple/Nokia licensing documents that were provided via the courts for the eyes of the Korean firm's legal advisors only?

This is what happened according to new reports this week as revealed in the US courts. Samsung accessed this confidential information in order to give the company leverage in negotiation with Nokia.

Nokia told the court Samsung executive Dr Seungho Ahn mentioned that he knew about the confidential documents during negotiations, and "even went so far as to tell Nokia that 'all information leaks'."

These latest revelations cast yet more dim light on the Galaxy maker's claims that it attempts to be ethical in its business dealings. The secret information was included in a report circulated across Samsung by one of its expert witnesses.

You'd think Samsung would fight strenuously to clear its name. The company doesn't seem to be. Instead it has chosen not to provide the court with any evidence requested within this component of the case, saying it is "unable to provide" such data. The drama continues on October 22 when Apple and Samsung will meet for a hearing concerning sanctions for this particular situation.

Pattern of behavior

In isolation this could perhaps be an error on Samsung's part -- but in conjunction with the vast wave of similar errors, it's difficult to avoid forming the impression that its striving toward ethical business management has a long, long way to go.

We all know of the US judgment against Samsung in which it was found to have copied some of Apple's ideas in early Galaxy devices; we're all aware the company now faces investigations into the way in which it handles FRAND patents; we've all heard that it paid people to post criticism of competing products, and we all know it cheats benchmark test results in order that its devices score better on such tests.

We even know that it will sell products on the basis of features it isn't actually prepared to guarantee.

Samsung isn't the only Android manufacturer to game benchmark tests. AnandTech has gathered evidence that shows most major Android device makers attempt to inflate their scores in such tests. The only ones who don’t being Motorola, Google with its Nexus range and Apple with its iPhone.

With this in mind it's amusing that Samsung has joined a new group called MobileBench Consortium, which is attempting to create new mobile benchmarks. I think Mr Gruber of Daring Fireball's opinion on this sums it up well. He said: "And in baseball news, Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun are collaborating on new tests for performance-enhancing drugs."

Fox and hounds

That statement may be a humorous take on what's happening, but it reflects what the judge in the case mentioned at the start of this piece notes of Samsung's courtroom promises with regard to the confidential papers.

"Rarely is the fox is permitted to investigate without supervision the disappearance of chickens at the henhouse," Judge Grewal said.

In isolation you could perhaps excuse some of these events as little more than business errors. Taken together it is hard not to think of this company as a poor corporate citizen prepared to bend the rules in order to dominate the smartphone industry: which it managed to do.

With its now chequered reputation in the public eye, the question now must be: how long will Samsung retain that dominance?

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