Motorola Papers Temporarily Sealed in Apple-Samsung Suit

Google Inc.’s Motorola Mobility unit won a court bid to temporarily seal 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.

U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh in San Jose today gave Motorola “one final opportunity” to argue that the documents should remain sealed and requested a “properly redacted document” for the court’s review. Motorola Mobility is a mobile-phone maker acquired by Mountain View, California-based Google in May.

The document at issue 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. It was filed as an exhibit supporting Apple’s attempt to depose Samsung witnesses, Motorola Mobility said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal on Oct. 10 denied Motorola’s request to seal the document, concluding 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. Grewal will rule on Motorola’s new bid, due by Nov. 2, and review the redacted document, according to Koh’s order.

‘Overbroad Requests’

“The court has now considered two overbroad requests by Motorola to seal the same document, in addition to the request by Samsung that Judge Grewal has already denied,” Koh wrote today. If Motorola’s final request is overbroad, “no further requests from Motorola” concerning the records at issue will be considered, she wrote.

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 court filing.

“Understanding Motorola’s pressure points in a negotiation could give someone an unfair advantage,” Motorola Mobility’s lawyer, Peter Chassman, told Grewal on Oct. 10.

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.

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

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