Apple Inc. (AAPL) Can’t Keep All Its Secrets, Judge Says

Apple Inc. (AAPL)Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been fighting a hard battle across several countries on a couple of continents, trying to protect and defend its intellectual property that comes in the form of trademarks and patents.  In the process, the company has been very protective of its financial information regarding its devices, of which Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. claimed violated its patents.

In a U.S. court, where Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) won an initial $1 billion award against Samsung by a jury that determined that several Apple patents were infringed, Judge Lucy Koh ruled this week that in order to determine the proper final award in this proceeding – Apple Inc. (AAPL) is asking Judge Koh to triple the jury award due to willfull infringement on the part of Samsung – she would have to put financials in the public record as part of the court proceeding.

She denied Apple’s request to suppress the information, and instead ordering that the documents be unsealed. What is the big deal? Financial information from publicly traded companies is made available to investors, analysts and others every quarter. Yes, but this file is different, according to sources – this is very detailed information about the various iDevice models that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has had featured in this trial. There is information that is very specific to each model, including profit margin, units, revenue, profits and cost data, among other things. Judge Koh says at seeing this information is an important tool in determining the proper award of damages to award. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) maintains that this information constitutes a trade secret and should be protected as such, but Judge Koh disagreed.

Koh said in her denial of the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to suppress that the company “cannot both use its financial data to seek multi-billion dollar damages and insist on keeping it secret.” However, as an offer of grace or mercy, Koh did say the data would not be unsealed until after the U.S. District Court of of Appeals has heard the request by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to appeal the decision. Investors like billionaire fund manager David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital might be interested to look inside the numbers, no?

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