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Rockwell Automation, Inc. v. Beckhoff Automation LLC

United States District Court, D. Nevada

June 9, 2014

BECKHOFF AUTOMATION LLC, et al., Defendant(s)


NANCY J. KOPPE, Magistrate Judge.

Pending before the Court Defendants' motion to seal. Docket No. 122. For the reasons discussed more fully below, the motion to seal is hereby GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.


In determining whether documents should be sealed in patent cases, the Court applies Ninth Circuit law. See Apple Inc. v. Samsung Elecs. Co., 727 F.3d 1214, 1220 (Fed. Cir. 2013). The Ninth Circuit has held that there is a presumption of public access to judicial files and records, and that parties seeking to maintain the confidentiality of documents attached to non-dispositive motions must make a "particularized showing" of "good cause." See Kamakana v. City and County of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1180 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1137 (9th Cir. 2003)); see also Pintos v. P. Creditors Assoc., 605 F.3d 665, 678 (9th Cir. 2010). A party seeking to file documents under seal bears the burden of overcoming that presumption. Pintos, 605 F.3d at 678 (quoting Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178). To the extent any confidential information can be easily redacted while leaving meaningful information available to the public, the Court must order that redacted versions be filed rather than sealing entire documents. Foltz, 331 F.3d at 1137.


The pending motion to seal argues that the Lancaster Declaration and its attached Exhibit A should be sealed because they have been designated by Defendants in discovery as highly confidential. See Docket No. 122 at 2. As an initial matter, the Court rejects the contention that designation of a document as confidential pursuant to the stipulated protective order necessarily renders a document sealable. The Court has approved the parties' stipulated blanket protective order to facilitate discovery exchanges. But there has been no showing, and the Court has not found, that any specific documents are secret or confidential. The parties have not provided specific facts supported by declarations or concrete examples to establish that a protective order is required to protect any specific trade secret or other confidential information pursuant to Rule 26(c) or that disclosure would cause an identifiable and significant harm. To that end, the stipulated protective order indicates that, "[i]n connection with any motion to seal, the filing party must submit a declaration in support of the motion to seal explaining why the material merits filing under seal." See Docket No. 98 at 14 (emphasis added).[1] In short, the parties' stipulated protective order did not make a sufficient good cause showing for any particular documents to be sealed. See, e.g., Beckman Indus., Inc. v. Int'l Ins. Co., 966 F.2d 470, 476 (9th Cir. 1992) (explaining that stipulated blanket protective orders do not include a finding of "good cause, " and rejecting argument for secrecy where no specific prejudice or harm was shown).

The Court nonetheless finds that good cause exists for sealing in this instance with respect to Exhibit A. Exhibit A consists of an internal document describing the functional specifications for software related to the XTS System. See Docket No. 123.[2] Defendants maintain the confidentiality of the specifications because it would be competitively disadvantageous to allow competitors to obtain them. See Lancaster Decl. ΒΆ 3 (Docket No. 123). Having reviewed the exhibit, the Court agrees that good cause exists to maintain the confidentiality of Exhibit A that overcomes the public's right to access. The Court also determines that redaction does not appear to be practical in this instance.

The Court finds that good cause does not exist with respect to the Declaration of Peter Lancaster, however. That declaration consists of three paragraphs, two of which indicate in general terms what Exhibit A is and why Defendants believe it should be treated in a confidential manner. See Docket No. 123. Given the generality of the information provided in this declaration, the Court fails to discern any harm to Defendants in requiring the declaration itself to be publicly filed, and Defendants have not articulated any.


For the reasons outlined above, the motion to seal is hereby GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. Docket Nos. 121 and 123 shall remain under seal. Nonetheless, within 7 days of this order, Defendant shall refile the Declaration of Peter Lancaster on the public docket. That publicly filed declaration shall simply include a placeholder for Exhibit A indicating that Exhibit A was filed under seal.


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