A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

Entries for tag: Sealing

Interior. Daytime. Camera zooms in on a series of bound documents lazing on a judge's desk.

Narrator: At one time, this courthouse would have been full of sealed filings. Flitting about through the hallways, their quiet calls echoing to one another as they played amongst the corridors.

[Music turns more somber, two smaller briefs seem to cling to a larger one with "DENIED" written in large red letters on the cover. despite their plaintiff cries, the larger brief does not stir]

I know, it's a pretty rough pun.
Karlheinz Eckhardt, Unsplash

Narrator: (continuing) Following years of habitat destruction, however, these beasts—once as common as pigeons or garden slugs—are on the verge of extinction.

[Music swells, as camera focuses on sealed papers being seemingly fed into a furnace; then we turn to a verdant valley where things seem brighter, ink flows in a peaceful stream and a jaunty fiddle tune takes over]

Narrator: But one hidden nook remains, untouched by the changes of recent years where a sealed filing can expect to live a long life in the the quiet secrecy that is its true home. That ancestral home is ...

Google apparently indexed its allegedly confidential information on its own search engine.
Google apparently indexed its allegedly confidential information on its own search engine. Pawel Czerwinski, Unsplash

Whew, this is another one that falls in the "I'm glad I'm not involved in that" bucket (some previous entries here and here).

On Friday, Judge Andrews rejected a frivolous motion to seal, after he found some of the supposedly-sensitive information as a top result on Google:

This is about as frivolous a motion to seal as I have seen. Defendants submitted a declaration of Phil Harnish in support of their motion to transfer the case to the Northern District of California. The motion is based on the purported need to avoid disclosing “sensitive personal information about employees that, if revealed, would …

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 …