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Motorola Mobility Loses Bid to Seal Samsung Court Records

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Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Google Inc.’s Motorola Mobility unit lost a court bid to seal “highly confidential” records of its patent-licensing talks with Samsung Electronics Co. that appeared in the South Korean company’s intellectual property lawsuit against Apple Inc. in California.

The document at issue in a hearing today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal in San Jose, California, is a summary of a licensing negotiation between Motorola and Samsung that took place several weeks before the two companies reached a 2000 agreement, according to a court filing by Motorola Mobility. It was filed as an exhibit supporting Apple’s attempt to depose Samsung witnesses, Motorola Mobility said.

Grewal said today that while he’s “sensitive” to Motorola Mobility’s interests, the document is so old that it isn’t worth keeping secret. The judge said he found Motorola’s arguments “insufficient to overcome the public’s interest” in open records.

The document reveals a “pattern of financial offers” in the cellular cross-licensing negotiations and may contain monetary terms, license rates, the direction of payments, names of licensed products and technologies, and the geographic scope of the deal, according to the filing. In patent licensing talks, competitors “negotiate concerning the relative values of their respective patent portfolios as well as the values of other terms in the agreement,” according to the filing.

“Understanding Motorola’s pressure points in a negotiation could give someone an unfair advantage,” Motorola Mobility’s lawyer, Peter Chassman, told Grewal today via teleconference.

An Aug. 24 jury verdict in San Jose federal court in which Cupertino, California-based Apple won $1.05 billion in damages from Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung is part of a global fight for dominance in the $219 billion global smartphone market. The world’s two biggest makers of high-end phones have accused each other of copying designs and technology for mobile devices and are waging patent battles on four continents.

Google is based in Mountain View, California.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., 11-cv-01846, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

To contact the reporter on this story: Joel Rosenblatt in San Francisco at jrosenblatt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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