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Apple Asks Court's Permission to Challenge GT Bankruptcy -- In Secret

Apple wants to protect sensitive data.

GT Advanced Technologies

Apple is seeking court permission to lodge its objections to GT Advanced Technologies’ bankruptcy filing in secret, to protect details of its confidential agreements with its would-be supplier of sapphire crystal.

The Cupertino technology giant filed a motion Tuesday asking to make its arguments under court seal to safeguard sensitive data, such as research and development details and other information related to its business process.

GT Advanced Technologies, which a year ago announced a high-profile deal to supply Apple with sapphire screens, abruptly filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Oct. 6. Shortly thereafter, the company asked the bankruptcy court’s permission to wind down its sapphire plants.

Many of the details surrounding the bankruptcy have been shrouded in secrecy because of confidentiality agreements between GT and Apple. The New Hampshire firm said it would be subject to a $50 million penalty per incident for disclosures that violate those agreements.

The state of New Hampshire filed an objection to the secrecy, noting that GT’s request to close sapphire manufacturing plants in Mesa, Ariz., and Salem, Mass., would leave 890 people out of work.

New Hampshire’s attorney general’s office argued in a motion that while the court should protect a company’s trade secrets, safeguarding all information pertaining about the business dealings between Apple and GT “goes much too far.”

The state said it remains unclear how a company that was assuring its investors of progress in August could have collapsed so suddenly into bankruptcy.

“The public interest in learning what transpired where [GT] made such confident statements publicly very recently, while clearly a catastrophic storm was on the horizon is very high,” wrote Peter C.L. Roth, senior assistant attorney general.

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