Looks like we will soon learn more details of what happened between the tech giant Apple and one of its suppliers, GT Advanced Technologies. GT, which makes synthetic sapphire used in smartphone screens, filed for bankruptcy last month, citing “burdensome contracts” with Apple. Reportedly, GT may have been faced with fines up to $50 million for each violation of confidentiality agreements with Apple.
Originally, GT and Apple attempted to keep certain documents and statements related to the case under court seal - away from the public’s eye. However, last week, US Bankruptcy Judge Henry Boroff said keeping such information secret was unnecessary. And, on Tuesday, GT released a statement about an amendment to its Settlement Agreement with Apple, saying both companies agreed to “waive the condition that GT's October 8th declaration be kept under seal and expunged.”
It’s expected the documents in the case will be unsealed by Friday this week. Apple was hoping to keep this information from the public due to fears it could damage its public reputation, as well as harm any relationships with its suppliers. If approved, the current settlement would allow GT to control its sapphire-manufacturing patents and grant it ownership and sales rights for production in Mesa, Arizona. Court documents also state Apple would also release damages against GT, which total more than $1 billion, should the settlement be approved. Experts say such an outcome may not be a major blow to Apple, who seems to more concerned with putting this ordeal behind and maintaining its reputation in the industry.
Last week, Spend Matters wrote on this Apple/GT case, and if proper procurement could have helped the companies avoid the current situation. Check out the article, written by Pierre Mitchell, chief procurement officer, here.
Stay tuned for future updates on this story as well. It will be interesting to see how unsealing these court documents will impact the views Apple’s suppliers have of the company.