On Tuesday, March 26, Gregg Leslie, the legal director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, is scheduled to appear before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to argue in favor of unsealing court documents in the multi-billion-dollar Apple v. Samsung patent case.
The appeal is significant because the Federal Circuit, where much important patent law is made, has never had a seminal access case.
The Reporters Committee, joined by seven media organizations, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Court of Appeals in October 2012, arguing that records in the smartphone patent lawsuit – whose partial unsealing by a lower court was appealed by both Apple and Samsung – should be public.
“These parties have taken their lawsuit into an open, public courtroom, leaving no stone unturned in the prosecution of their claims, and now are attempting to stretch trade-secret protections to become congruent with their own corporate boundaries,” the Reporters Committee brief argued.
The American Society of News Editors, Bloomberg LP, Dow jones & Co. Inc., Gannett Co. Inc., The New York Times Co., the Society of Professional Journalists, and The Washington Post all joined the brief. The California-based First Amendment Coalition also filed an amicus brief arguing for unsealing the records.
Leslie will emphasize the importance of public access for journalists and the general public.
“It’s important that we ensure public access to court documents is never compromised,” said Leslie. “Even in a case involving sensitive financial information wrapped up in a patent dispute, there are essential rights of public access that the Reporters Committee will defend.”
The court appearance marks the second time this month that a Reporters Committee lawyer has argued before a federal appellate court.
On March 15 at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Executive Director Bruce D. Brown argued against dismissal of an anti-SLAPP motion filed by Larry O’Connor, an associate of the late blogger Andrew Brietbart. Brown, representing O’Connor on behalf of Baker & Hostetler where he remains of counsel, argued that a libel suit brought by former Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod over a video shown on Breitbart’s site should be dismissed under D.C.’s new anti-SLAPP law. The O’Connor appeal is the first to reach the D.C. Circuit under the new statute.
“People are going to see Reporters Committee attorneys in court more often,” said Brown. “There is a huge need for access and FOIA work, and the Reporters Committee is in a great position to provide more support to the industry either by litigating these cases ourselves or seeking argument time as amici as we have done here.”
About the Reporters Committee:
Founded in 1970, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press offers free legal support to thousands of working journalists and media lawyers each year. It is a leader in the fight against persistent efforts by government officials to impede the release of public information, whether by withholding documents or threatening reporters with jail. In addition to its 24/7 Legal Defense Hotline, the Reporters Committee conducts cutting-edge legal research, publishes handbooks and guides on media law issues, files frequent friend-of-the-court legal briefs and offers challenging fellowships and internships for young lawyers and journalists. For more information, go to www.rcfp.org, or follow us on Twitter @rcfp.
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