Friday, November 23, 2012

Judge orders Apple to provide snark-less, but detailed HTC deal to Samsung

Apple has been somewhat snarky with its responses to legal decisions and motions of late. Not only was it "clever" in the way it handled a recent U.K. ruling forcing it to apologize to Samsung publicly, it was similarly so with its response to a Samsung motion to see the details of its patent deal with HTC. Judges, though, don't react that well to snarkiness.

Apple and HTC signed a 10-year license agreement earlier this month, but withheld the details, which isn't unusual. Samsung, embroiled in patent disputes worldwide with Apple, asked the court to force Apple to furnish the information. The Korean giant was "almost certain" the deal covered at least some of the patents involved in its dispute with Apple.

On Wednesday, Apple said "sure, except ..." The Cupertino, Calif.-based giant and HTC would share their agreement with Samsung but with caveats. First, it was only to be released to Samsung's attorneys. In addition, numerous details -- including the important royalty rates -- would be redacted.

Apple said that Samsung's lawyers -- and Apple said it had emails to prove it -- had agreed to a redacted version. Samsung said that fact didn't mean the company couldn't see a complete version, as well.

In a ruling Wednesday evening, Magistrate Judge Singh Grewal agreed with Galaxy S III maker. He did state, however, that the agreement was only to be shared with Samsung's lawyers.
Many third parties to this case have had their licensing agreements disclosed -- without any redaction of financial terms -- subject to an Attorneys-Eyes-Only designation because the confidential financial terms were clearly relevant to the dispute between Apple and Samsung. HTC is not entitled to special treatment, especially when it has recognized the general sufficiency of the protective order and the integrity of Samsung's outside counsel.
Apple and Samsung are due back in court on Dec. 6, in a follow-up to the August decision the awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages. At least some of the discussion will center on Apple's motion to permanently ban at least eight of Samsung's devices in the U.S.

Samsung's interest in the Apple's deal with HTC is because judges favor licensing to bans. If another company has managed to achieve a deal with Apple, why not Samsung?

Samsung, though, has said it will not seek a deal with Apple.

Also to be discussed at the Dec. 6 hearing will be a motion by Samsung that seeks to get the results of the entire trial thrown out.

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