Ina Fried

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Tech Firms Battle to Keep Secrets as Apple vs. Samsung Nears Trial

While the primary battle next week in a San Jose courtroom will be between Samsung and Apple, a secondary skirmish is also taking place.

Both Apple and Samsung — along with a variety of other tech companies including Intel, Qualcomm and Microsoft — are pleading with the court to keep a variety of details from court filings away from public view. Among the sensitive details the firms want kept private are product diagrams, contract terms and internal market research.

In addition to the oppositions filed by various tech companies, Apple has sought to keep under seal pricey market research reports it has purchased, arguing that the disclosure of those reports would destroy the value of the reports and hurt Apple’s relationships with the firms that produced the studies.

News agency Reuters, meanwhile, is fighting that request, arguing that most everything should be made public, despite the objections from the tech companies.

“The third parties’ reliance upon agreements they may have made with Apple or Samsung for confidentiality is not a compelling reason to seal, and their license terms do not rise to the level of trade secrets meriting sealing,” Reuters’ attorneys said in a motion opposing the requests from various tech companies.

The skirmish over what information should be made public comes just ahead of the trial in the case, which is set to begin Monday. The judge has already limited the scope of what the parties can keep private as the trial nears.

In a filing on Friday, Apple said it has narrowed the number of documents it is seeking to keep private to just four briefs and some 30 documents of the hundreds filed in the case, arguing those in question are highly sensitive.

“If the select documents that Apple seeks to seal and redact are allowed to enter the public record, Apple will be irreparably harmed in innumerable ways,” the company said. “Apple’s business partners will lose trust in Apple when their confidential material, shared with Apple under the understanding it would be protected, is opened to the world, destroying the market for third-party research company’s reports and revealing highly sensitive details of heavily negotiated license agreements. Apple’s competitors will gain in-depth knowledge of Apple’s cost structure and profit margins, as well as intelligence into Apple’s market.”

Apple and Samsung have also proposed a procedure by which they would jointly submit to the court trial exhibits that they would like to be redacted.

“While the parties have yet to reach a final agreement that would eliminate the need to introduce exhibits that contain highly sensitive information, both Samsung and Apple are committed to negotiating in good faith to minimize the need for maintaining the confidentiality of trial exhibits and ensuring that the trial remains an open forum,” the two companies said in a joint filing on Friday.


Apple versus Samsung Full Coverage

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google