Redacted information on Apple’s licensing agreements and marketing studies is revealed when federal judge’s online PDF order was cut and pasted

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: http://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.

THE LAW OFFICE OF JOSEPH A. CORSMEIER, P.A.

PROVIDES ETHICS ADVICE AND EXPERT OPINIONS TO LAWYERS AND LAW FIRMS

DEFENDS LAWYERS IN BAR ADMISSION AND DISCIPLINE CASES

(AND MUCH MORE!)

My law firm focuses on review, analysis, and interpretation of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, advice and representation of lawyers in Bar disciplinary matters, defense of applicants for admission to The Florida Bar before the Board of Bar Examiners, defense of all Florida licensed professionals in discipline and admission matters before all state agencies and boards, expert ethics opinions, and practice management for lawyers and law firms.  If there is a lawyer or other Florida professional license involved, I can defend the complaint or help you get your license.

If you have any questions or comments, please call me at (727) 799-1688 or e-mail me at jcorsmeier@jac-law.com.  You can find my law firm on the web at www.jac-law.com. In addition to handling individual cases, matters, problems and issues for my clients, I also am on retainer to provide ethics advice to numerous lawyers and law firms throughout the state of Florida.  I also provide legal assistance and advice to numerous individuals and non-legal entities to help insure compliance with the law and rules related to UPL and other issues.

Disclaimer:  this e-mail does not contain any legal advice and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.

Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.

2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431

Clearwater, Florida 33759

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

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