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Reporters Committee urges court to unseal records in Apple-Samsung patent dispute

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The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for…

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., arguing that records in Apple v. Samsung smartphone patent dispute be unsealed. The Reporters Committee brief was joined by seven leading news organizations.

At the core of the brief is the historical presumption of openness in judicial proceedings, and the concern that Apple and Samsung’s claim that “trade secrets” requires the information to be sealed is convenient, but not constitutional.

“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 brief argues.

The effort to unseal the documents started in the lower court, when Reuters America LLC sought access to several documents from discovery. Though the court granted a partial victory, both Apple and Samsung appealed. The First Amendment Coalition sought to intervene in the appeal, but was denied, and then filed its own friend-of-the-court brief today.

“Despite the fact that the parties are trying to downplay the public interest in this case, the scope and potential impact of this trial – on the technology industry, the economy and the U.S. patent system generally – is undeniably huge,” said Reporters Committee Executive Director Bruce D. Brown. “The public has a strong public interest in these cases and a constitutional right to know what’s happening in its courts.”

The Reporters Committee brief was joined by the American Society of News Editors, Bloomberg LP, Dow Jones & Co. Inc., Gannett Co. Inc., The New York Times Co., Society of Professional Journalists and the Washington Post.

A copy of the brief is online.

About the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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.

Related Reporters Committee resources:

· News: Appeals Court bars First Amendment nonprofit from intervening in Apple-Samsung case

· News: Federal judge orders unsealing of documents in ongoing Apple-Samsung patent litigation