Judge says patents involved in Apple-HTC deal must remain unsealed

In a ruling late last night, US District Court Judge Lucy Koh ordered that the patents Apple and HTC are cross-licensing as part of their settlement are to remain unsealed, suggesting that the public will eventually get a look at this information.

The order comes two weeks after US Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal granted Samsung’s motion to compel, forcing Apple to disclose the terms of its deal with HTC to its legal team. But now it looks like we’ll all get a peek inside the pact…

From the order (via CNET):

“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. Accordingly, Apple’s motion to seal is GRANTED with regard to the pricing and royalty terms of the agreement only, and DENIED with regard to the rest of the agreement.”

Unfortunately, this means that we won’t get to see any of the juicy stuff, such as who is paying what to whom. But it looks like we will get to see which patents are involved in the settlement, and more importantly, which patents Apple is letting HTC use.

Apple uses a few utility patents, such as the one on “rubber-banding,” in court a lot. And they were a major factor in its $1 billion victory over Samsung earlier this year. So if Apple’s licensing these patents to HTC, then they aren’t “vital” to its success, and that could reduce the damages Samsung has to pay.

On that front, proceedings between Apple and Samsung will continue this week, with both companies scheduled to discuss their post-trial motions. Apple is looking to ban some of Samsung’s products, and Samsung for its part, is hoping to get the entire trial thrown out due to jury misconduct. Stay tuned.