Apple and Samsung win bid to keep secret financial details

Apple vs Samsung (Apple before and after iPhone)

Apple and Samsung were both ordered to make public their profits and other financial details pertaining to their business, as part of last October’s copyright infringement lawsuit that saw a US jury award Apple a billion dollar in damages over Samsung’s patent infringement practices. Needless to say, both companies filed motions to keep sensitive data private.

Today, as Reuters reports, both technology titans won their respective bid to keep secret financial details. A federal US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC rebuked the trial judge who had previously ordered the financial information from both Apple and Samsung be made public…

Reuters explains a three-judge appeals panel decided that in this case the public’s interest does not include corporate financial information:

We recognize the importance of protecting the public’s interest in judicial proceedings and of facilitating its understanding of those proceedings.

That interest, however, does not extend to mere curiosity about the parties’ confidential information where that information is not central to a decision on the merits.

One of the judges wrote that “we must remain mindful of the parties’ right to access those same courts upon terms which will not unduly harm their competitive interest”.

It’s worth mentioning that Reuters along with the First Amendment Coalition filed motions to reveal Apple and Samsung’s full financial information. The news gathering organization and many other media outlets was clearly dissatisfied with the heavily redacted copies of the filings released to the public.

Last October, US District Court Judge Lucy Koh, who presided over the trial, kept her order to make trial exhibits public, pending the outcome of the appeal. She argued that the public’s interest in understanding the proceedings outweighed the companies’ rights to keep the information secret.

Mind you, that’s the same judge who slashed about $450 million from the original $1.05 billion verdict in the Apple vs. Samsung case (a November 2013 retrial is scheduled to determine the damages Samsung must pay).

In other related legal news today, the US Department of Justice has altered its e-book settlement offer to charge that Apple had willfully altered its in-app purchasing policy “to retaliate against Amazon for competitive conduct that Apple disproved of”.

The government’s evidence: the revealing email exchange between Steve Jobs and Apple’s marketing honcho Philip Schiller. A judge has denied Apple’s request to suspend the guilty plea until an appeal can be heard and a May trial is scheduled to determine damages.