Apple, Microsoft v. Google’s Motorola Mobility trials raise concerns over courtroom secrecy

“Two weeks before a high-stakes trial pitting Google’s Motorola Mobility unit against Microsoft, Google made what has become a common request for a technology company fighting for billions of dollars: A public court proceeding, conducted largely in secret,” Dan Levine reports for Reuters.

“Google and Microsoft, like rivals embroiled in smartphone patent wars, are eager to keep sensitive business information under wraps – in this case, the royalty deals they cut with other companies on patented technology,” Levine reports. “Microsoft asked for similar protections in a court filing late on Thursday. Such royalty rates, though, are the central issue in this trial, which begins November 13 in Seattle.”

Levine reports, “Legal experts are increasingly troubled by the level of secrecy that has become commonplace in intellectual property cases where overburdened judges often pay scant attention to the issue. Widespread sealing of documents infringes on the basic American legal principle that court should be public, says law professor, Dennis Crouch, and encourages companies to use a costly, tax-payer funded resource to resolve their disputes.”

“Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp have been litigating in courts around the world against Google Inc and partners like Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, which use the Android operating system on their mobile devices,” Levine reports. “Apple contends that Android is basically a copy of its iOS smartphone software, and Microsoft holds patents that it contends cover a number of Android features.”

Levine reports, “Robart will decide how big a royalty Motorola deserves from Microsoft for a license on some Motorola wireless and video patents. Apple, for its part, is set to square off against Motorola on Monday in Madison, Wisconsin, in a case that involves many of the same issues.”

Read more in the full article here.

4 Comments

  1. This is a personal opinion and has no basis in any legal concept:

    FRAND patent royalties should be public. How else will the public and the standards organizations know that a company is living up to its obligations for patent royalties upon which international standards are based. A patent bully or patent troll that has a record of charging $0.05 per device for some companies (say a “parent company” or one that uses the parent company’s software or hardware) but then charges $5.00 per device for everyone else needs to be exposed.

    Conversely for patent royalties that are NOT FRAND, I fully support those royalties being reported during the trial but being kept under a secrecy seal. For non FRAND patents the royalty is whatever the marked will bear. There is absolutely no obligation on the patent holder’s part to charge similar rates to everyone.

  2. Here is a case where anxious and eager are misused.

    They are not “eager to keep sensitive business information under wraps…” no, that would case anxiety, they are anxious.

    Just as when we are “anxiously awaiting” the arrival of the iPad mini, no we are happy and that would be “eagerly awaiting”!

  3. “Levine reports. “Apple contends that Android is basically a copy of its iOS smartphone software…”

    No one has ever said this, not Apple, not the Android critics, no one but Dan Levine.

    Now, if Dan had said, Apple contends that Android is basically a copy of its iPhone, we’d all agree, because in many respects Android’s genesis began at Apple, but for him to suggest Android is a copy of iOS software is ludicrous.

    Dan works for Reuters, which is syndicated around the world, and that means this story gets picked up by the main stream media and you’ll all be reading it in your local newspaper.

    Dan is a self-confessed court junkie who writes from legal perspective, not a technical one, was probably a victim of curt trial lawyers who refused Dan’s requests for information based on pre-trial restrictions, so * poof! * he writes about secrecy.

  4. Stop say Motorola! IT’S GOOGLE!

    Second. Secret?
    What do they mean by that? That ridiculous. Apple had to revile almost down to the blue prints of the iPhone and now Google want to keep their stuff secret? Oh nooo. I hope this judge smack Google hard and make them put everything on the table.

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