Hello welcome to this JACPA Ethics Alert blog which will discuss the recent federal trial court order in Apple’s patent infringement suit against Samsung Electronics which was formatted in a way that exposed redacted information, including Apple’s studies showing its customers are unlikely to switch to Samsung’s Android devices and information on Apple’s licensing agreements with Nokia and IBM. The case is San Jose Division Apple, Inc. v. Samsung Electronic Co, LTD et al, Case No.: 11-CV-01846-LHK (N.D. California). You can read the entire 65 page order here: https://newsandinsight.thomsonreuters.com/uploadedFiles/Reuters_Content/2011/12_-_December/applevsamsung–kohinjunctruling.pdf. File this in your metadata “oops” file.
The lengthy order by U.S. Northern District Judge Lucy Koh denied Apple’s request for a preliminary injunction in its suit claiming Samsung’s Galaxy products infringe patents for the iPhone and iPad was signed and electronically filed on December 2, 2011. According to Reuters, the redacted information was revealed when the order, which was released in PDF format, was cut and pasted into another document.
Again according to the Reuters report, redactions are a routine part of the policy of the federal courts to seal materials in intellectual property cases. The Reuters report quoted Emory law school professor Timothy Holbrook as saying that he did not see any apparent trade secrets in the redactions. “Most of it just seems like it was sealed out of an abundance of caution,” he said. The original order was sealed and a corrected version was posted the same day about four hours later.
Bottom line: Although this appears to be a “no harm, no foul” situation, the incident clearly illustrates the danger of revealing hidden “metadata” even when a document is in PDF format, which is typically considered to be somewhat secure. Even federal judges and their clerks are at risk…
…be careful out there!
As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.
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