Judge Says Apple Can’t Have It Both Ways, Denies Request To Seal Financial Documents

Judge Says Apple Can’t Have It Both Ways, Denies Request To Seal Financial Documents

US District Court Judge Lucy Koh today denied Apple’s request to have several documents sealed from public view in its fight to recoup more damages from Samsung than were even awarded by the jury several weeks ago. The documents include “product-specific unit sales, revenue, profit, profit margin, and cost data” that it also wants to use in its argument for a higher award from the court.

Judge Koh basically said that Apple can’t have it both ways. Her decision says to the Cupertino-based company that it can’t use documents in its arguments that it then in turn wants to keep secret. It just doesn’t work that way.

These documents could help Apple win an extra $535 million in damages, reports Joe Mullin over at Ars Technica, on top of the already $1.05 billion the jury awarded the iPhone creator, which has already made this the largest patent verdict ever, if it stands appeal. Samsung, of course, would like a new trial, and argues that the jury foreman wasn’t honest about his own lawsuit history or personal viewpoints around the current US patent system.

If made public, the documents themselves would be another glimpse into Apple’s financial situation, something that only happened during the actual trial last month as a part of the evidence discussed in the highly-reported courtroom battle between tech giants.

“As Apple appears to have realized in introducing that exhibit, it cannot both use its financial data to seek multi-billion dollar damages and insist on keeping it secret,” writes Judge Koh in her order today. “The public’s interest in accessing Apple’s financial information is now perhaps even greater than it was at trial.”

She continued by writing that the extra damages and the sales bans that Apple requested “would have a profound effect on the smartphone industry, consumers, and the public.” She also said that Apple has not provided any new compelling reasons for sealing the documents beyond continuing to assert that the data are trade secrets.

Koh finishes up the order by agreeing to leave the actual unsealing of the documents until the order itself is reviewed by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. This order joins a similar one that has already been sent to the Federal Circuit court for appeal as well.

Of course the media wants these documents unsealed, with a separate brief filed arguing for the order to be upheld by many media organizations, including Bloomberg, Dow Jones, The New York Times Company, and The Washington Post. The brief was filed under the Reporters’ Committee for the Freedom of the Press. Another group called The First Amendment Coalition also filed a brief with the Federal Circuit, claiming the same thing.

  • LTMP

    Seems a bit wrong headed to me.

    A jury has already decided that Samsung was in the wrong.

    Now, in order to get what it feels is a fair award, Apple will have to reveal its sensitive documents in front of its ALL of its competitors and the rest of the world.

    That’s a bit like making the victim of a beating drop his pants to show the bruises on national TV.

  • kafantaris2

    “[P]rofound effect on the smartphone industry, consumers, and the public.”
    That just about sums up the difficulties with the verdict in this case — if not the difficulties with the present state of patent law.
    Maybe we needed a high profile case to wake us up.

  • technochick

    Now, in order to get what it feels is a fair award, Apple will have to reveal its sensitive documents in front of its ALL of its competitors and the rest of the world.

    Apple is asking Koh to use her legally allowed power to treble the award and hinging that request on things like how much they spent on R&D and how little profit they make. Koh is saying they can’t argue that if they aren’t willing to prove it. And in order to not give Samsung the power to appeal the treble judgment she needs to put that info into the court records to show that the increase was justified.

    It’s a fair decision. Now if Apple were to say that they want any other information, like who their suppliers are, how much they pay and for what or even perhaps the names of the companies they are working with for that R&D left out, that could be more justified a request since that information might not be pertinent to Koh’s decision

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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