Apple ordered by court to produce agreement with HTC

A court in California has ordered Apple to produce an unredacted version of its recent patent agreement with HTC, after Samsung Electronics said the agreement was relevant to its dispute with Apple.

However, the document will only be made available for viewing by the attorneys in the patent lawsuit, Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose division, wrote in an order on Wednesday.

HTC had earlier agreed to produce a version of its Patent License and Settlement Agreement (PLSA) with Apple, provided it was redacted to exclude the terms disclosing the consideration paid under the PLSA, including how the amounts were calculated. The redacted document was also to be marked “Highly Confidential —Attorneys’ Eyes Only” as provided under a protective order entered by the court.

The compensation terms it seeks to redact are highly “competition-sensitive,” HTC wrote in the filing.

Earlier this month, Apple and HTC settled their patent disputes with a 10-year agreement in which both companies will license current and future patents from each other. The terms of the settlement were kept confidential.

Samsung asked the court to compel Apple to produce a copy of its settlement and patent license agreement with HTC, as it almost certainly covers at least some of the patents in Samsung’s dispute. Apple’s willingness to license patents in the suit may undermine its claim of irreparable harm and demonstrate that monetary remedies are adequate, Samsung said in a filing last week.(

The South Korean company asserted during a hearing that the financial terms of the agreement support its argument that a royalty is a more suitable alternative to a permanent injunction. The court has scheduled a hearing in December to decide on Apple’s plea for a permanent injunction on the sale of some Samsung phones.

“Many third parties to this case have had their licensing agreements disclosed—without any redaction of financial terms—subject to an Attorneys-Eyes-Only designation because the confidential financial terms were clearly relevant to the dispute between Apple and Samsung,” wrote Judge Grewal in his order. HTC is not entitled to special treatment, particularly as it has recognized the general sufficiency of the protective order and the integrity of Samsung’s outside counsel, he added.

The court also agreed to Samsung’s moves to compel further depositions of three Apple experts cited in Apple’s request for a permanent injunction against Samsung. It also allowed Apple’s request for two additional depositions if the court were to grant Samsung’s request.

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