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Judge in GT Advanced bankruptcy case skeptical about need for secrecy

At a hearing on Wednesday, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Henry Boroff said he sees little in the way of sensitive trade secrets that would preclude the court from making the terms of Apple's deal with sapphire maker GT Advanced Technologies public.



According to in-court reports from Reuters, Judge Boroff questioned the need to grant Apple's motion to seal documents in the ongoing GT Advanced bankruptcy proceedings.

"I've got a foot-high stack of documents, and it can't be that it all must be sealed," Boroff said.

Apple contends that evidence and its filed objections include sensitive research and development details and secret business dealings that need to be kept out of public purview. Already divulged as part of GT's Chapter 11 filing are Apple's supplier non-disclosure agreements, which for GT consists of a $50 million penalty for each instance of leaking details about an unreleased product.

To the jurist, Apple is seemingly acting like a disgruntled homeowner not satisfied with the results of a construction project.

"I'm seeing what looks incredibly like a construction suit, where a homeowner says to the contractor, 'It didn't come out the way I wanted to,' and the contractor says, 'Well, it would have come out that way if you didn't continue to change the specifications,'" Boroff said.

While the details are unknown, rumors claim Apple was not satisfied with the quality of GT's sapphire material yield. Production goals required for contract payment were also not being met, though Apple reportedly tried to help GT qualify for the last $139 million apportionment.

For its part, GT called the contracts with Apple "oppressive and burdensome" and in documents filed with the court said it believes to have "many claims against Apple arising out of its business relationship with Apple."

After filing for bankruptcy protection earlier this month, GT Advanced announced plans to wind down plant operations at its sapphire production facilities.

Apple said it is dedicated to keeping the jobs created at the Mesa, Ariz. sapphire plant, but has yet to announce a strategy that would see such a transition through.