Apple and its old-time court “patent” rival, Uniloc, won a joint appeal on Wednesday to fight the risk of patent leakage. The two sides co-argued for the US Court of Appeals to temporarily keep Uniloc’s licensing terms from the public.
Apple and Uniloc USA Incorporated requested the Federal Court of Appeal to overrule the District Court’s decision to publish details regarding over a hundred third-party licensing agreements with different organizations, including Microsoft Corporation.
A San Francisco district judge had ruled in a previous case involving the two companies where he promoted the necessity of public interest in accessing information. However, a statement from the Federal Circuit of the US Court of Appeal said that the judge’s ruling overemphasized the value of upholding the public’s information interests.
Following the joint recommendation from Uniloc and Apple, the Appeal Court responded by asking District Judge William Alsup to review the case for the second time. However, William Alsup refused to keep the information about Unlioc’s business deals secret, arguing that the public had the right to account for a patent and its owner.
Uniloc, a subsidiary of SoftBank’s Fortress Investment Group, has reportedly filed hundreds of lawsuits on patent infringements. In 2017, the company sued Apple over certain smartphone-related patents, being one of the several times that Uniloc has sued the consumer tech giant. Notably, both sides arrived at a peaceable agreement on the 2017 suit last year.
Meanwhile, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights organization, stepped in to help uphold the trial court’s ruling. It asserted the public’s right to know the details of the ongoing case between the two companies.
Reports have it that the US Federal Court of Appeal had already flawed the ruling court’s decision in the ongoing case. However, the appeal court emphasized that Alsup reconsidered publicizing details about Uniloc and third-party (Apple) patent licenses. Specifically, details regarding publishing the terms of the agreement, the names of involved individuals, and the amount they pay should remain confidential.
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