A recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington reversed a ruling from a U.S. District judge in San Jose, California, on Aug. 23. The appeals case was over the lower court’s ruling that Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. had to make all exhibits public that were used in a trial between the two companies last year. Both companies asked the judge to keep the information confidential; however the judge denied both requests. Her ruling, though, was not carried out because the appeals case was filed.
The appellate court’s ruling said that while the judges understood the “importance of protecting the public’s interest in judicial proceedings… [such interest] does not extend to mere curiosity about the parties’ confidential information.”
Several news organizations argued for the “exceptionally sensitive information” to be made public, including intellectual property information, source code, market research reports, business plans and financial information. Some of those news organizations included the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and Bloomberg News. The appellate court said that in most cases, the information is made public, but this is an exception because of the “competitive harm” it could case either or both businesses.
Samsung wanted portions of 12 filings from the patent litigation trial last year keep sealed and Apple wanted parts of 14 documents kept out of the public’s eye. Apple won that case last year and a $1 billion verdict, but the judge ordered that some of the damages be retried. That new trial is set to kick off in November.
Neither company has commented on the ruling by the appellate court.
Bloomberg.com, “Apple, Google, Bosch, CIT Group: Intellectual Property” Victoria Slind-Flor, Aug. 26, 2013