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Press Unites to Unseal Apple-Samsung Filings

Sealing documents that have nothing to do with trade secrets is one of the most abused privileges in the American legal system

A coalition of news organizations and media advocacy groups including Bloomberg, The New York Times and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has asked the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold District Court Judge Lucy Koh's order that Apple and Samsung unseal financial documents filed in Apple's patent infringement litigation against the Korean giant.

Reuters says such a decision "would set an important precedent for high-level intellectual property cases" where sealing documents to keep them from the press is a knee-jerk reaction.

At a hearing Tuesday a three-judge panel reportedly appeared skeptical with one of the judges saying, "You really seem to be saying that a trade secret is the formula for Coke and not much else."

Another said, "Most of the world would be shocked to find out that your financial data...for products on the market today is not a trade secret."

The only documents Koh said could be sealed relate to source code and patent licensing contracts. The financial documents that both Apple and Samsung want to remain sealed await the appeal court's decision.

Sealing documents that have nothing at all to do with trade secrets is one of the most abused privileges in the American legal system.

Amusingly, Apple and Samsung cut down the list of documents they wanted kept secret after the coalition presented oral arguments.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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