Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Apple's law firm in iPhone ITC complaint disqualified due to insufficient ethical wall

Readers are no doubt familiar with Apple's iPhone. Apple has engaged in a patent dispute with HTC, maker of competing phones that run the Android operating system software produced by Google. In March, at the behest of Apple, the International Trade Commission voted to institute an investigation of alleged patent infringement. The ITC has the power to bar the import of HTC phones based on its findings.

During this process, Nokia (which was not named in this specific matter but was involved in a parallel and related matter), brought a motion to disqualify Apple's law firm, Adduci, Mastriani & Schaumberg, based on exposure to confidential information obtained in that action.

Key findings of the disqualification ruling, which was issued in June under seal and just publicly released:
  • "... the investigations are substantially related. He also held that AMS did not address the “critical issue” that AMS acquired Nokia’s confidential proprietary business information during the Qualcomm investigation. According to the Order, AMS’s failure to rebut Nokia’s assertions proved fatal to AMS’s arguments."
  • "the ethical wall was not sufficient to satisfy ABA Model Rule 1.9(a) which states that “[a] lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter represent another person in the same or a substantially related matter in which that person’s interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client unless the former client gives formal consent, confirmed in writing."
Another example highlighting the importance of demonstrably effective law firm ethical screening and confidentiality management controls.

No comments:

Post a Comment