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Apple forced to reveal telco contracts

The clock is ticking for Apple, which has to pony up commercial agreements with Telstra, Optus and Vodafone at noon tomorrow, as requested by Samsung, or face handing over non-redacted copies of the documents.
Written by Luke Hopewell, Contributor on

The clock is ticking for Apple, which has to pony up commercial agreements with Telstra, Optus and Vodafone at noon tomorrow, as requested by Samsung, or face handing over non-redacted copies of the documents.

At the start of the month, lawyers representing Samsung sent a letter to the lawyers representing Apple, demanding that the Cupertino-based gadget giant reveal the commercial arrangements that it has in place with Australia's three largest telcos — Optus, Telstra and Vodafone. The notice was part of Samsung's bid to win an injunction against the new iPhone 4S, by demonstrating the damage that the device is having on Samsung's market share.

Apple objected to Samsung's notice to produce in court this morning, labelling the action as nothing more than a "fishing expedition" that has no relevance to the case, based on Samsung's wording.

"We resist any attempt by our friends to try and push us into a corner, to try and admit those what are alleged to be statements of fact in three numbered paragraphs," Apple's legal counsel said in court, adding that there has been no offer by Samsung to also disclose its arrangements with telcos for comparison.

"What is sought to be done here is quite clearly a fishing expedition to try and avoid a proper evidentiary foundation. Your Honour ought not to be entertaining an application by my friend to try and force us to pick one of these three [options]," he added.

Despite its objections, however, Apple was ordered by Justice Annabelle Bennett to play ball with Samsung's notices to produce today, or face disclosure of the documents to external lawyers only by noon tomorrow.

"If no agreement is reached as to the proposed facts in the letter from Blake Dawson to Freehills of 8 November 2011, Apple is to produce to barristers only by noon on 10 November 2011 contracts between Apple on the one hand, and Vodafone, Telstra and Optus on the other hand, pursuant to the notice to produce issued by Samsung to Apple on 28 October 2011," the court said in its orders made today.

Apple sought to buy time from Bennett by saying that representatives from Apple in the US had to be contacted and informed.

"Now is a good time in the US to receive this call," Justice Bennett said, adding that "they're sure to be thrilled".

Samsung's pursuit of a ban on the iPhone 4S is part of a larger patent fight between the two parties. Apple Australia dragged Samsung into court over the alleged infringement of several patents within the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 — a device that was recently banned by order of the court.

The case is set to resume in the Sydney court on 11 November.

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