Late last year, Samsung found itself in trouble over claims it had secretly spied on Apple and Nokia documents to gain a better position in patent deals. It denied any wrongdoing, saying it hadn't done so wilfully, and now US judge Paul S. Grewal has finally drawn the same conclusion. PCWorld reports that the US District Court for the Northern District of California ruled Wednesday that the Korean company could not have used confidential information for its patent licensing talks with Nokia, a deal that was extended in November, because it already knew all of the terms ahead of the leak.

The court considered sanctions against Samsung after the company's legal negotiator, Dr. Seungho Ahn, had reportedly told Nokia that its terms with Apple "were known to him," even though they were marked "highly confidential -- attorneys' eyes only." Up to 50 Samsung employees were said to have been given non-redacted copies of Apple documents by its external counsel Quinn Emanuel, which included patent deals with Nokia, but also Ericsson, Sharp and Philips. While Samsung has escaped further action, the court will force its legal representatives to cover both Apple and Nokia's legal fees, effectively making the "junior associate working late one night" pay for underusing that big black marker.