Apple has been ordered to reveal the details of its patent settlement with smartphone maker HTC – but only to Samsung's lawyer's within court.
The ruling by Judge Lucy Koh means that details of the agreement, and the net payment that HTC is making to Apple, will remain secret, despite the wide range of legal actions that Apple is pursuing against rival companies around the world.
Samsung is seeking details of the agreement as its lawyers believe that Apple has settled with HTC for a considerable discount on the sums that Apple has been demanding from Samsung. Apple and HTC had agreed to supply a version of the agreement with a number of key details excluded, including the level of payments involved, but Judge Koh has ordered that the full agreement must be disclosed – but only to Samsung's lawyers.
Furthermore, a redacted copy of the agreement has also been published.
This includes a number of interesting details including, first, that the agreement only covers some, as yet unspecified, products; second, that lawsuits could be restarted at the International Trade Commission at some point in the future; and, finally, that a change of ownership of either company would invalidate the agreement, unless prior permission were granted by the other party.
Apple and Samsung are due back in court on 6 December to hear Samsung's demand that the September court case, which was won emphatically by Apple, be declared void. Samsung is claiming bias on the part of the foreman of the jury who, it has been suggested, misunderstood and misdirected the rest of the jury on key points of patent law.
Apple is seeking injunctions on the sale of popular Samsung tablet and smartphone products in the US, as well as damages in excess of $1bn (£650m). Prior to the case, Apple had demanded royalties of some $35 (£20) per Samsung tablet and smartphone product to cover what it claimed were its "design patents".
Samsung rejected both the validity of Apple's patents – especially when it licensed key 3G and 4G patents under FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) terms – and the level of payment that Apple was demanding. Samsung claims that regardless of the outcome of the 6 December hearing, Apple's willingness to license its patents to HTC makes an injunction unreasonable.
Furthermore, Samsung believes that the terms of Apple's agreement with HTC price Apple's patents at much less than the sum that Apple was demanding of Samsung.