A judge has ruled that the patent agreement between Apple and HTC cannot be completely secret.
Judge Lucy Koh, based at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose, has ruled that the technology giants will be allowed to keep pricing and royalty terms under lock and key, but the patent details themselves will not be given the same protection, PC Advisor reports.
This means that the exact details of each patent in question between the iPhone and iPad maker and Taiwanese firm will be available in the public domain.
After considering a petition to keep the Apple and HTC patent agreement under wraps, Judge Koh wrote:
"There are compelling reasons to seal pricing and royalty terms, as they may place the parties to the agreement at a disadvantage in future negotiations, but there is nothing in the remainder of the agreement that presents a sufficient risk of competitive harm to justify keeping it from the public."
Apple and HTC reached a ten-year patent agreement after a worldwide battle in various courts involving allegations of patent infringement and design copying, resulting in other tech firms including Google's Motorola unit being drawn in. Samsung also became part of the fray, and after learning of the deal, petitioned the California-based court to order the companies to disclose the terms -- as it is "almost certain" that the deal is relevant to its own legal battles with Apple.
After making its case, electronics maker Samsung won the right for its attorneys to view a full copy of the agreement.
HTC is "happy" with the terms of the patent licensing deal, and HTC CEO Peter Chou said that original media reports that suggested the Taiwanese firm would have to pay between $6 and $8 to Apple for each smartphone produced were "outrageous."
In the ongoing battle between Apple and Samsung -- where Samsung has filed a motion to add the iPod Touch 5, the new iPad and the iPad mini to a list of alleged patent infringing devices -- Apple's campaign for a permanent injunction on a number of Samsung's products is due to be heard on Thursday.