Will Apple’s Secrets See Daylight?

Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL), Samsung’s, and many other companies’ trade secrets could be on the line as a federal appeals court weighs public interest against the companies’ right to keep the information secret.

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The Federal U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has become involved to decide whether Apple and Samsung have to unseal various financial documents in their current patent case. The lower court had ordered that the tech giants to comply with this ruling, and media groups and advocacy groups are pushing for the court to uphold that ruling.

Obviously, Samsung and Apple are pushing in the opposite direction. They, and many other companies, want to keep as much of their information as secret as possible. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh allowed them to keep their source code and patent licensing deal details secret, but financial data and other information was ordered to be revealed.

Now, the Federal Circuit panel will have to decide what will happen. The ruling could set a legal precedent in future patent cases that may make companies shy away from the litigation, as they may be forced to expose information that they don’t want to show. The judges will consider legal precedents in making their determination. They recently expressed their concern that the definition of “trade secrets” might be too narrow.

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While outsiders have tried to argue that releasing the data is in the public interest, Samsung and Apple may have to prove that releasing the information will damage their companies. The case hinges heavily on whether financial data can be deemed a trade secret.

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