A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

Entries for tag: Sealing

Zoya Loonohod, Unsplash

Judge Wolson of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has taken a number of patent cases as a visiting judge in the District of Delaware over the past few years, including at least one that has gone to trial recently.

One aspect of practice before Judge Wolson that may be unexpected for regular Delaware practitioners is how he handles sealing of documents.

Sealing Materials Is Typically Easy in the District of Delaware (Maybe Too Easy)

Normally, in Delaware, parties are used to just filing things under seal, and then filing a redacted version seven days later. No motion to seal is generally required and, depending on the judge, there is little risk that a redacted version will …

We've written about the strong presumption of public access in the Third Circuit, which has led the D. Del. judges to push back on sealing requests in recent years. Judges frequently deny requests to seal judicial records (like hearing transcripts and opinions), and some have taken a more active role in monitoring sealed filings on their dockets.

On Tuesday, for example, Magistrate Judge Fallon ordered a party to provide "a factually detailed explanation" for why the exhibits to the redacted version of a sealed letter brief met the Third Circuit standard for sealing:

ORAL ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE re: D.I. 161 : On or before close of business on July 14, 2021, Defendants shall submit a letter …

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 …

Lock Boxes
Tim Evans, Unsplash

The District of Delaware today issued guidance on the submission of "highly sensitive documents" today, following the recent breaches of government computer systems by malicious intruders. Similar orders have been issued across the country.

The procedures indicate that parties must file a motion for a document to be treated as including highly sensitive information, and the motion must be granted before the procedures are used. Once granted, the documents must be submitted in paper or via a secure drive.

Luckily, these new procedures address only a sub-category of sealed information, and do not impact current procedures other than for documents with highly sensitive information. Highly sensitive information is defined as follows:

HSI generally refers …

Over the last few years, sealing courtrooms, transcripts, and even ordinary filings has become more difficult in Delaware. With unopposed motions to seal being regularly denied in the absence of a strong showing of harm, one might wonder how high the bar would rise if a third party actually requested disclosure.

Judge Burke provided us a glimpse of the answer in ruling on one of these rare requests earlier this week in Integra LifeSciences Corp. v. HyperBranch Med. Tech., Inc., C.A. No. 15-819-LPS-CJB, D.I. 826 (D. Del. Jan 25, 2021)—a case that had previously been closed for more than a year. The parties in that case had filed various documents under seal years ago, …

As we've recently pointed out, you need more than a boilerplate motion with generic arguments to overcome the presumption of public access in D. Del. It also helps to submit a declaration. But even if you do, don't be surprised if your request is denied.

On Monday, Judge Andrews denied a Hatch-Waxman defendant's unopposed motion to redact a hearing transcript on a motion to dismiss. This was "not a boilerplate motion" and it "was accompanied by an Affidavit."

The defendant also made the kinds of arguments that have sometimes succeeded in the past:

The gist of the underlying motion to dismiss is that Sandoz has lost its API supplier and that Sandoz will not be able to …

Consistent with the trend in this District, Judge Andrews recently rejected a defendant's unopposed request to seal the [virtual] courtroom and exhibits for a preliminary injunction hearing, despite the defendant's assertions that its presentation might include trade secrets and other highly confidential technical and financial information, and that it would be "prevented from effectively offering its arguments" if the proceedings were not sealed.

Consistent with a recent trend in the District, Judge Thynge recently ordered parties to justify the continued sealing of a proposed amended complaint—even though the plaintiff had followed the ordinary sealing procedures and had submitted a redacted version of its motion to amend, including redactions to the proposed amended pleading.

Shortly after she issued her R&R denying plaintiff's motion to amend, Judge Thynge put the following notice on the docket:

ORAL ORDER: Although the Motion to Amend the Complaint was filed under seal, within ten (10) days of the docketing of the Report and Recommendation at DI 266, counsel shall file an explanation, limited to two (2) pages, as to why the Amended Complaint should remain under seal. Ordered …

Always a bit terrifying:

The [unopposed] motion to redact (see C.A. 19-311-RGA D.I. 96) is DENIED. The redactions are extensive, and the request to redact is unsupported by any statement under oath. I do not think the motion meets the requirements of Avandia Marketing. Ordered by Judge Richard G. Andrews on 10/2/2020.

Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. v. Anchen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 19-311-RGA, D.I. 97 (D. Del. Oct. 2, 2020).

If you want your motion to redact to succeed these days, you really need to keep the redactions narrow, and it's safest to offer ample support.

Last week I wrote about the Xcoal breach-of-contract bench trial, which was adjourned after opening statements due to an "anonymous letter" discussed at a sidebar.

The Court has now unsealed the transcript of that sidebar, which includes the contents of the "anonymous letter" (as read into the record).

It turns out that the letter, signed "Xcoal whistleblower" and sent to defendants' counsel, alleges that plaintiff Xcoal's founder had planned to "cause a default" on the contract at issue, so that the company could collect on a $10 million guarantee that was part of the contract.

It alleges that he planned "to cause default by delayed coal shipments, withhold payments, and extract penalties from [defendant] Bluestone."

The contract involved lab …