The media advocacy group and news organizations are about to possibly 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 to arguments from the Apple vs. Samsung jury trial expressed skepticism over how crucial the information is to the public interest.
As of right now, 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 patent dispute, had to reveal certain information for inspection by the court and the public. Reuters noted that the three-judge CAFC panel didn’t seem swayed by the argument that unsealing such information is critical to the public interest. According to Judge William Bryson:
You really seem to be saying that a trade secret is the formula for Coke and not much else. If there are investors out there who are very interested in the (sealed financial data), are they part of the public interest?
Although Judge Koh allowed the two companies to keep trade secrets such as source code and patent licensing deals sealed, the jurist ordered financial and other deemed sensitive data to be revealed. Both Apple and Samsung agree that the court should restore the seals on the requested information with the rivals arguing that if the court upheld Judge Koh’s order, it could have rippling effects on future intellectual property disputes that could see a move away from the court system.
On the opposing end, arguing for access to the information is an array of media groups and free speech advocates including The New York Times and Bloomberg. They both contend that access to the sealed information is essential for the public interest, as the information that is revealed in the documents helps the public to understand the judicial process and why one company way win over the other.
Source: Reuters via AppleInsider