The epic battle between Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. could have resulted in the release of some juicy inside information. The Federal U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that the tech giants do not have to reveal confidential profit and sales information.

The controversy dates back to the patent infringement trial held last year. Both companies submitted documents to the court that contained financial details relevant to the calculation of damages. Most of the information was redacted, and Reuters filed motions in the court to unseal the documents.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh initially ruled that the documents should be unsealed, citing that the public’s interest in the proceedings outweighed the companies’ interest in protecting their confidentially. However, the appeals court disagreed.

Unlike the lower court, the Federal Circuit concluded that the companies could suffer competitive harm if the information is made public. Thus, they had a significant interest in preventing the release of their detailed financial information.

While the panel acknowledged the intense public interest in the case, it held that this does not necessarily mean that the public has a legally cognizable interest in every document filed. It noted that the financial information at issue was not considered by the jury and is not essential to the public’s understanding of the jury’s damages award.

“We recognize the importance of protecting the public’s interest in judicial proceedings and of facilitating its understanding of those proceedings,” the three-judge appeals panel explained in its opinion. “That interest, however, does not extend to mere curiosity about the parties’ confidential information where that information is not central to a decision on the merits.”

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– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +