I share this point 100%.
All companies serve customers. What every customer does before purchasing is comparing. Being competitive ''literally'' requires to know what competition is doing. Competitive and reverse analysis are necessary, any big company does it, this is one major task of any marketing department. To make a counter example, Nokia overlooked competition in 2009 and you see how it ended. I don't see how these sort of e-mails can seriously stand a trial about particular patent infringement.
Someone told me recently some companies are having an attorney staff every major meeting so it can be considered privileged communications and exempt from discovery.
Anyone else heard of such practices?
It is my understanding that in the current case the LG Prada handset is not being considered as prior art at least in part because it was not sold or marketed in the U.S. prior to the launch of the iPhone.
Any patent experts here can feel free to clarify the law.
I once worked for a major US electronics manufacturer and they had a whole department dedicated to the reverse engineering of competitor's products. They went as far as using an E-beam prober to read out the contents of protected EEPROM. They didn't copy the code, just use it for understanding benchmark results. I'm sure they weren't alone. Regarding prior art overseas, I would be very surprised if they could patent a a foreign invention overlooking foreign prior art. If they could then there would be very little stopping a foreign country from discounting any US IP rights overseas.