Apple has won an advantage in its upcoming trial against Samsung with a US judge’s order that will instruct the jury to assume that Samsung allowed the destruction of relevant emails that would have helped Apple’s case.

Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents posted the order, which was filed at 1AM, from Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal. The order partially grants an Apple motion to have jurors for next week’s trial notified of the lapse on Samsung’s part.

“Samsung has failed to prevent the destruction of relevant evidence for Apple’s use in this litigation. This is known as the ‘spoliation of evidence,'” the judge wrote.

In what’s known as an “adverse inference instruction,” the jury will be told to presume that missing emails were relevant and would have been beneficial to Apple’s claims of infringement.

Mueller did note that the instruction was “relatively soft” since the judge could have dictated stronger terms in Apple’s favor, but he said the order could still be considered useful, in part because it could make Samsung look bad in the eyes of the jury.

At issue is the fact that a senior R&D manager at Samsung failed to provide any emails for evidence. The manager was the one who took notes during a March 2011 meeting where Samsung’s then CEO and its Vice Chairman of Corporate Strategy discussed plans to alter the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in light of Apple’s recently-unveiled iPad 2. Though Samsung argues that it was simply conducting normal “benchmarking” inquiries, the missing emails could lead the jury to believe that Samsung had something to hide.

Samsung also asserts that it was only following Korean privacy laws by automatically deleting emails every two weeks, but the judge noted that Samsung had already come across this issue in a previous lawsuit and could have instructed employees to save local copies of the emails. Judge Grewal alleged that Samsung already knew by March 2011 that litigation from Apple was “reasonably foreseeable” since the iPad maker had already contacted them to voice its concerns.

The stakes are high for Samsung in this case, as Apple is seeking $2.5 billion in damages. The South Korean consumer electronics maker is already facing preliminary injunctions in the US against its Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Galaxy Nexus.

The complete note that jurors will receive, as provided by FOSS Patents:

“Samsung has failed to prevent the destruction of relevant evidence for Apple’s use in this litigation. This is known as the ‘spoliation of evidence.’

I instruct you, as a matter of law, that Samsung failed to preserve evidence after its duty to preserve arose. This failure resulted from its failure to perform its discovery obligations.

You also may presume that Apple has met its burden of proving the following two elements by a preponderance of the evidence: first, that relevant evidence was destroyed after the duty to preserve arose. Evidence is relevant if it would have clarified a fact at issue in the trial and otherwise would naturally have been introduced into evidence; and second, the lost evidence was favorable to Apple.

Whether this finding is important to you in reaching a verdict in this case is for you to decide. You may choose to find it determinative, somewhat determinative, or not at all determinative in reaching your verdict.”

Image via Flickr / eofstr