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Aevoe Corp. v. AE Tech Co.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

November 12, 2014

AEVOE CORP., Plaintiff(s),
v.
AE TECH CO., et al., Defendant(s)

For Aevoe Corp., Plaintiff, Counter Defendant: Jeffrey A Silvestri, LEAD ATTORNEY, Josephine Binetti McPeak, McDonald Carano Wilson, Las Vegas, NV; David S Bloch, Kevin Joon Oh, Winston & Strawn LLP, San Francisco, CA; Jennifer A. Golinveaux, PRO HAC VICE, WINSTON & STRAWN LLP, San Francisco, CA.

For Racing Optics, Inc., Seth Wilson, Bart Wilson, Stephen S. Wilson, Movants: Kenneth Jay Gumbiner, LEAD ATTORNEY, Higgins Benjamin PLLC, Greensboro, NC; Mark R. Borghese, Borghese Legal, Ltd., Las Vegas, NV.

AE Tech Co., Ltd., Defendant, Pro se, Taipei, Taiwan.

For S& F Corporation, doing business as SF Planet Company, doing business as SF Planet Corporation, Greatshield Inc., Defendants: Lynn J Alstadt, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, Pittsburgh, PA; Samuel Braver, LEAD ATTORNEY, Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, Pittsburgh, PA; John P. Aldrich, Aldrich Law Firm, Ltd., Las Vegas, NV.

AE Tech Co., Ltd., Counter Claimant, Pro se, Taipei, Taiwan.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTIONS TO SEAL (Docket No. 632, 646)

NANCY J. KOPPE, United States Magistrate Judge.

Pending before the Court are two motions to seal filed by Plaintiff related to the joint proposed pretrial order (" JPTO") and the amended joint proposed pretrial order (" amended JPTO"). See Docket No. 632, 646. The motions to seal seek redaction of information designated as confidential by Plaintiff and information designated as confidential by Defendant AE Tech Co. (" AE Tech"). Both motions were served on AE Tech. See Docket Nos. 644, 648. AE Tech did not submit any declaration in support of the motions to redact the information it designated as confidential. The Court finds the pending motions to seal properly decided without oral argument. See Local Rule 78-2. For the reasons discussed more fully below, the motions to seal are both GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

I. STANDARDS

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 strong presumption of public access to judicial records. See Kamakana v. City & County of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006); Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1135 (9th Cir. 2003). A party seeking to file documents under seal bears the burden of overcoming that presumption. Pintos v. Pac. Creditors Ass'n, 605 F.3d 665, 678 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178). Parties " who seek to maintain the secrecy of documents attached to dispositive motions must meet the high threshold of showing that 'compelling reasons' support secrecy." Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1180. Those compelling reasons must outweigh the competing interests of the public in having access to the judicial records and understanding the judicial process. Id. at 1178-79; see also Pintos, 605 F.3d at 679 & n.6 (court must weigh " relevant factors, " including the public's interest in understanding the judicial process).[1]

The Ninth Circuit has indicated that " 'compelling reasons' sufficient to outweigh the public's interest in disclosure and justify sealing court records exist when such 'court files might have become a vehicle for improper purposes, ' such as the use of records to gratify private spite, promote public scandal, circulate libelous statements, or release trade secrets.'" Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179 (citing Nixon v. Warner Commc'ns Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 598, 98 S.Ct. 1306, 55 L.Ed.2d 570 (1978)); see also Apple, 727 F.3d at 1221-22 (discussing competitive harm to business and the definition of " trade secret" adopted by the Ninth Circuit). On the other hand, " [t]he mere fact that the production of records may lead to a litigant's embarrassment, incrimination, or exposure to further litigation will not, without more, compel the court to seal its records." Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179 (citing Foltz, 331 F.3d at 1136).

A party's burden to show compelling reasons for sealing is not met by general assertions that the information is " confidential" or a " trade secret, " but rather the movant must " articulate compelling reasons supported by specific factual findings." Id. at 1178. The Ninth Circuit has expressly rejected efforts to seal documents under the " compelling reasons" standard where the movant makes " conclusory statements about the contents of the documents-that they are confidential and that, in general, " their disclosure would be harmful to the movant. Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1182; see also Vaccine Ctr. LLC v. GlaxoSmithKline LLC, 2013 U.S. Dist Lexis 68298, *5-6 (D. Nev. May 14, 2013) (finding insufficient general assertions regarding confidential nature of documents). Such " conclusory offerings do not rise to the level of 'compelling reasons' sufficiently specific to bar the public access to the documents." Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1182. In allowing the sealing of a document, the Court must base its decision on a compelling reason and must " articulate the basis for its ruling, without relying on hypothesis and conjecture." See, e.g., Pintos, 605 F.3d at 679 (quoting Hagestad v. Tragesser, 49 F.3d 1430, 1434 (9th Cir. 1995)).

II. ANALYSIS

As noted above, the motions to seal seek redaction of some information designated as confidential by Plaintiff and some designated as confidential by AE Tech. The Court will address the information in turn below.

A. Plaintiff's Information

Plaintiff argues that compelling reasons exist for redacting information in Proposed Fact No. 14 in Part III and Nos. 11-15 in Part V of the JPTO and amended JPTO. See Docket No. 632 at 4-6; Docket No. 646 at 4.[2] Plaintiff relies on the declaration of Jonathan Lin in asserting that this type of information is confidential and proprietary, and qualifies as a trade secret. See, e.g., Docket No. 646 at 4 (relying on declaration at Docket No. 507). For example, Plaintiff points to sales, manufacturing, and customer information. See, e.g., id . Mr. Lin also explains that Plaintiff keeps the cited information confidential and that its disclosure would be competitive disadvantageous. See, e.g., id . Plaintiff also points to the Court's previous order sealing such information from the Cox Report. See Docket No. 511 at 3. The Court finds that compelling reasons exist to seal this information that overcome the public's interest in access. Accordingly, as to the above information, the motions to seal are GRANTED.

B. AE Tech's Information

The balance of the information at issue in the motions to seal was designated as confidential by AE Tech. When the sole reason for seeking to seal information is that the opposing party has designated it as confidential, this Court has instructed that the designating party must submit a declaration supporting the sealing request. See, e.g., Docket No. 334. The Court has made clear that the failure to file such a declaration may result in the Court ordering the information to be made public. See, e.g., id . The pending motions were both served on AE Tech, Docket Nos. 644, 648, but it failed to submit a declaration in support of them. Accordingly, the motions to seal are DENIED with respect to the information designated as confidential by AE Tech.

III. CONCLUSION

For the reasons outlined above, the motions to seal are hereby GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. Within 7 days of the issuance of this order, Plaintiff shall file on the public docket redacted versions of the joint proposed pretrial order and the amended joint proposed pretrial order. Plaintiff shall redact the confidential information contained in Proposed Fact No. 14 in Part III and Nos. 11-15 in Part V. Plaintiff shall not redact the information designated as confidential by AE Tech.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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