A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


Entries for tag: protective-order

The dam continues to break on sealed filings.
The dam continues to break on sealed filings. Englebright Dam, Amit Patel, CC BY 2.0

We noted last week that Judge Andrews has been cracking down on parties filing entire exhibits under seal. Since then, he has issued three more orders regarding filings where exhibits were sealed in their entirety. Beyond those, in two instances he has rejected even more limited redactions:

ORAL ORDER: The justification for sealing is non-existent. Apparently, per Ms. Pascales letter . . . , Medacta is the party who wants to redact. The entire document [that was filed] is going to be unsealed on August 27, 2021, unless Medacta submits before then (1) the document with the redactions in yellow highlighting, and (2) a …

Is the dam about to break on over-redaction of filings?
Is the dam about to break on over-redaction of filings? Thomas Dumortier, Unsplash

Most patent cases involve a protective order, and the parties tend mark documents other than prior art as confidential or attorney's eyes only. As a result, many of the more substantive filings—particularly discovery motions, summary judgment motions, and pretrial orders—are filed under seal.

Unlike some other jurisdictions, particularly the Northern District of California, the District of Delaware's procedure for filing under seal is not burdensome. Once a protective order is entered, no motion is required to file a document under seal, and the parties simply file redactions within seven days.

Over time, parties have become more and more liberal with their redactions, often heavily redacting sealed …

Fire. I couldn't find an image of raining brimstone.
Fire. I couldn't find an image of raining brimstone. Ricardo Gomez Angel, Unsplash

On Monday, Judge Noreika sanctioned a patentee plaintiff for not following the protective order regarding source code.

Here is what the plaintiff did:

Plaintiff violated the Protective Order at least six times over a period of almost one year by: 1) creating an electronic copy of the source code on July 6, 2020; 2) sending that electronic copy to a vendor that had not signed the Acknowledgement and Agreement to Be Bound by Stipulated Protective Order (which actually violated two provisions of the Protective Order); 3) failing to maintain a log of all copies; 4) storing an electronic and apparently unencrypted copy of the source code …

Secret
"SECRET" stamp, RestrictedData, CC BY 2.0

The parties in Progressive Sterilization, LLC v. Turbett Surgical LLC, C.A. No. 19-637 (D. Del.) brought a dispute about "excessive" redactions to certain production in their patent action.

The defendant sought information from third parties who were under contract with the plaintiff, including various consultants and a former business partner.

Plaintiff apparently has confidentiality agreements with these people, and tried to filter their document production in the case, redacting information it thought should not be produced to the defendant. According to defendant's letter brief:

[Plaintiff] insisted on reviewing [the] third-party subpoena recipients’ responsive documents and redacting certain non-privileged content . . . prior to their production to Defendants

According …

Shield of Sir John Smythe (1534–1607)
Shield of Sir John Smythe (1534–1607), The Met

This week judges in the District of Delaware issued two orders regarding discovery disputes seeking relief from protective orders in patent actions. One granted relief, and one denied it. The contrast between the two is a great illustration of how you should and shouldn't argue for relief from a protective order.

How Not to Do It

In the first action, plaintiff Wildcat sought permission to disclose defendant's materials from the district court in a co-pending IPR to support its secondary considerations of non-obviousness. The protective order specifically allowed this:

All Protected Material shall be used solely for the above-captioned cases or any related appellate proceeding and/or proceedings before the United States …

In ruling on a protective order dispute today, Judge Andrews wrote:

Urban legend has it that one of my predecessors said he is not bound by his own prior decisions. But I have also heard many times that lawyers believe that predictability in a judge is a really good thing. Thus, since it seems to me that the considerations here are no different than they were in the prior case, I should make the same ruling here.

IP/DE takes no official position as to which previous judge he may be referring...

His Ruling Was Also Worth Noting

The protective order dispute concerned cross-use by a plaintiff of defendants' confidential information in a multi-defendant ANDA action.

Plaintiff' proposal allowed …