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Patents in Apple/HTC settlement can't be sealed, judge says

updated 09:55 am EST, Tue December 4, 2012

Ruling will expose just part of settlement

The patents shared between Apple and HTC in their global legal settlement can be revealed to the public, according to a late Monday ruling from US District Court Judge Lucy Koh. "This Court has repeatedly explained that only the pricing and royalty terms of license agreements may be sealed," the ruling states. "There are compelling reasons to seal pricing and royalty terms, as they may place the parties to the agreement at a disadvantage in future negotiations, but there is nothing in the remainder of the agreement that presents a sufficient risk of competitive harm to justify keeping it from the public."

So far the only party outside Apple, HTC, and the court to have seen some details of the settlement has been a lawfirm contracted by Samsung. The firm was granted access to a list of patents because they may have been relevant to Samsung's recent case with Apple, particularly two patents related to bouncing, scrolling, and zooming in mobile interfaces. "This license has direct bearing on the question of irreparable harm and whether monetary remedies are adequate," one of the lawyers wrote in the access petition.

Koh's ruling could reveal whether or not Apple has exchanged some normally highly-guarded patents with HTC. During the recent Apple v. Samsung trial, an Apple patent licensing director referred to a collection of "untouchables," meaning patents it only extends to a handful of companies.

Apple and Samsung are scheduled to return to court on Thursday to sort out more details of an August jury verdict which granted Apple over $1 billion in damages. The court should, for instance, look at an Apple demand to ban at least eight Samsung devices in the US, and a Samsung motion to have the whole trial thrown out.

by MacNN Staff



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