Apple Loses Bid to Keep Software Information Under Seal

Apple Inc. failed to convince a judge that information about its software in court filings that’s already available on the Internet and in print is “‘trade secrets’’ that should remain sealed from public view.

Apple, the maker of the iPad and iPhone, had asked U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco to seal documents containing information about its Mac OS X operating system and computer products, including Apple’s technological protection measure, system integrity checks and thermal management techniques, according to court documents.

The Cupertino, California-based company didn’t deny that the information was already public or argue that it was misappropriated, Alsup said in his ruling today. Apple maintained that because it wasn’t the source of the information and had never confirmed it, trade secret protection still exists, Alsup said.

‘‘Apple cannot have this court seal information merely to avoid confirmation that the publicly available sources got it right,” Alsup said.

Information about the operating system is available on the website of a book about the software, the judge said. Apple’s decryption key haiku is available to any user who compiles and runs publicly available code on a MacBook Air laptop, he said.

Copyright Infringement

The ruling came in Apple’s copyright-infringement lawsuit against Psystar Corp., a maker of Macintosh computer clones that was barred in 2009 by Alsup from selling copies of Apple’s operating system or products that circumvent technologies that control access to the software. His order covered a Psystar software product that allowed customers to run the Mac operating systems on non-Apple computers. The companies reached a $2.67 million partial settlement of the lawsuit in 2009.

A federal appeals court in San Francisco upheld Alsup’s sales injunction in September and ordered some documents in the case unsealed. Apple renewed its sealing request, telling Alsup that the information could be used to facilitate the same type of infringement that Psystar had done, according to court filings. Alsup ordered that unredacted versions of documents should be unsealed.

Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, didn’t immediately respond to a voice-mail message seeking comment on the ruling. Kiwi Camara, an attorney for Psystar, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

The case is Apple v. Psystar Corp., 08-cv-3251, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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