Court questions unsealing of Apple v. Samsung documents in secrecy hearing

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Media advocacy groups and news organizations may face a tough struggle to unseal sensitive financials and other secret documents in future coverage of high-stakes litigation, as a federal appeals court hearing related arguments from the Apple v. Samsung jury trial expressed skepticism over how crucial the information is to the public interest.

CAFC Logo


The question before the Federal U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is whether or not to uphold Judge Lucy Koh's ruling that Apple and Samsung, in the course of their long-running patent dispute, had to reveal certain financial information for inspection by the court and the public. Reporting on the matter, Reuters notes that the three-judge CAFC panel did not seem particularly swayed by the argument that unsealing such information is critical to the public interest.

""You really seem to be saying that a trade secret is the formula for Coke and not much else," Judge William Bryson said. "If there are investors out there who are very interested in the (sealed financial data), are they part of the public interest?" Bryson said he believed such knowledge wouldn't affect one's perception of the fairness of the proceeding.

While Judge Koh allowed the two companies to keep trade secrets, like source code and patent licensing deals, sealed, the jurist ordered financial and other deemed sensitive data be revealed.

Apple and Samsung agree that the court should restore the seals on the requested information. The two rivals argue that, were the court to uphold Judge Koh's order, it could have rippling effects on future intellectual property disputes that could see a move away from the court system.

Arguing for access to the information is an array of media groups and free speech advocates, including publishing heavyweights The New York Times and Bloomberg. They contend that access to sealed information is essential for the public interest, as the information provided in the documents helps the public to understand the judicial process and why one company may win over the other.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    I agree with the appeals court. There's no need for all of the financial information to be made public. How is it in the public's interest to know more than the SEC requires the companies to disclose? And how does it serve the public's interest to damage the companies that have to disclose information while letting other companies not involved in the litigation to keep their information secret?
  • Reply 2 of 8
    Secrecy is a problem but it does seem to be necessary in some competitive situations. The public interest is always present however. To argue that there is NO public interest here is a mistake; there are questions of balance.

    The courts must also be wary of the use of the court's power and to abuse it. Courts most often are used to badger the weaker opponents in litigation. Even in cases where both opponents can take care of themselves, such as in this Apple vs Samsung case, courts are being misused, seems to me (that and the IP system). It certainly make matters worse when the public, as usual, has no understanding or appreciation of the laws involved (both substantive and procedural).
  • Reply 3 of 8
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Secrecy is a problem but it does seem to be necessary in some competitive situations. The public interest is always present however. To argue that there is NO public interest here is a mistake; there are questions of balance.

    What is the public's legitimate interest in knowing the kind of information in question?
  • Reply 4 of 8
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,612member


    Total nonsense.  The media is just trying to use the public as an excuse to get into sealed records for their own purposes.  This has ZERO to do with public interest, and everything to do with their own financial gain.  Nothing more.

  • Reply 5 of 8
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,094member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


    Total nonsense.  The media is just trying to use the public as an excuse to get into sealed records for their own purposes.  This has ZERO to do with public interest, and everything to do with their own financial gain.  Nothing more.



     


    I agree. Next thing you know, normal citizens financial records will be posted online for everyone to see.

  • Reply 6 of 8
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by waldobushman View Post



    Secrecy is a problem but it does seem to be necessary in some competitive situations. The public interest is always present however. To argue that there is NO public interest here is a mistake; there are questions of balance.


    The court is not arguing that there is no public interest.


    They are asking what is the argument that there IS public interest


     


    "Because we're media advocacy groups and news organizations and we really want to see it" is not a valid argument for the public interest.

  • Reply 7 of 8
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    chris_ca wrote: »
    The court is not arguing that there is no public interest.
    They are asking what is the argument that there IS public interest

    "Because we're m<span style="color:rgb(24,24,24);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;line-height:18px;">edia advocacy groups and news organizations and we really want to see it" is not a valid argument for the public interest.</span>

    Exactly. It's not up to Apple or Samsung to prove anything. The people asking for the records to be unsealed have to prove:
    1. That they have a public interest right in seeing the information.
    and
    2. That their rights outweigh Apple and Samsung's rights to maintain their secret information.

    The appeals court appears to be saying that they haven't met that burden of proof.
  • Reply 8 of 8
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,585member
    The Appeals Court might even issue a mixed order, opening some of the documents to the public (perhaps especially Samsung's) while keeping other types sealed.
Sign In or Register to comment.