Apple ordered by court to produce agreement with HTC

HTC had earlier agreed to produce a redacted version of the agreement without the financial terms in it

A court in California has ordered Apple to produce without delay an unredacted version of its recent patent agreement with HTC, after Samsung Electronics said the agreement was relevant to its patent infringement dispute with Apple.

The document will, however, be made available only for viewing by the attorneys in the patent lawsuit, Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose division, wrote in an order on Wednesday.

HTC had earlier agreed to produce a version of its Patent License and Settlement Agreement (PLSA) with Apple, provided it was redacted to exclude the terms disclosing the consideration paid under the PLSA, including how the amounts were calculated. The redacted document was also to be marked "Highly Confidential --Attorneys' Eyes Only" as provided under a protective order entered by the court.

The compensation terms it seeks to redact are highly "competition-sensitive," HTC wrote in the filing.

Apple and HTC said earlier this month that they had settled all their outstanding patent disputes in a settlement that includes a 10-year agreement under which the companies will license current and future patents from each other. The terms of the settlement were kept confidential and not disclosed.

Samsung asked the court to compel Apple to produce a copy of its settlement and patent license agreement with HTC, as it almost certainly covers at least some of the patents in the suit. Apple's willingness to license patents in the suit may undermine its claim of irreparable harm and demonstrate that monetary remedies are adequate, Samsung said in a filing last week.(

The South Korean company asserted during a hearing that the financial terms of the agreement support its argument that a royalty is a more suitable alternative to a permanent injunction. The court has scheduled a hearing in December to decide on Apple's plea for a permanent injunction on the sale of some Samsung phones.

"Many third parties to this case have had their licensing agreements disclosed -- without any redaction of financial terms -- subject to an Attorneys-Eyes-Only designation because the confidential financial terms were clearly relevant to the dispute between Apple and Samsung," wrote Judge Grewal in his order. HTC is not entitled to special treatment, particularly as it has recognized the general sufficiency of the protective order and the integrity of Samsung's outside counsel, he added.

The court also agreed to Samsung's moves to compel further depositions of three of Apple's experts whose declarations accompany Apple's reply brief in its motion for a permanent injunction against Samsung. It also allowed Apple's request for two additional depositions if the court were to grant Samsung's request.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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