Nicely v. International Game Technology

Filing 22

ORDER DENYING 19 MOTION TO SEAL.(whalc2, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/16/2014).

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1 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 8 9 MARK NICELY, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 Plaintiff, 12 13 No. C 14-03160 WHA v. 14 15 ORDER DENYING MOTION TO SEAL INTERNATIONAL GAME TECHNOLOGY, a Nevada corporation, Defendant. / 16 17 Defendant International Game Technology has moved to seal portions of the complaint 18 dated July 11, 2014, as well as portions of an exhibit appended thereto. For the following 19 reasons, the motion is DENIED. 20 In brief, this is a putative class action in which plaintiff Mark Nicely alleges (among 21 other items) that defendant breached its “Patent Award” contract and program for its employees. 22 According to the complaint, defendant paid its employees for invention disclosures that the 23 employees submitted and which the company included as part of its patent applications to the 24 United States Patent and Trademark Office. If the PTO later granted such a patent application, 25 defendant would pay additional compensation to the employee who had submitted the invention 26 disclosure. The complaint further alleges that defendant terminated its Patent Award program in 27 early 2014 (Compl. ¶ 3). 28 1 Now, defendant moves to seal portions of the complaint and an appended exhibit, 2 regarding confidential information that reportedly discloses “trade secrets details of the [Patent 3 Award] program” (Br. 1). Kamakana v. City and County of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178–79 4 (9th Cir. 2006), thus applies, requiring at least “a particularized showing . . . under the ‘good 5 cause’ standard of Rule 26(c)” to warrant sealing of materials attached to non-dispositive 6 motions. Id. at 1080 (internal citations omitted). Other courts in our district have further applied 7 Kamakana’s “compelling reasons” standard to motions to seal a complaint, “because a complaint 8 is the foundation of a lawsuit.” See, e.g., In re Google Inc. Gmail Litig., 13-MD-02430-LHK, 9 2013 WL 5366963 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 25, 2013) (Judge Lucy H. Koh); and In re NVIDIA Corp. Derivative Litig., 06–06110, 2008 WL 1859067, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 23, 2008) (Judge Saundra 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 Brown Armstrong). 12 In any event, having reviewed the portions that defendant seeks to seal as well as the 13 parties’ briefing and declarations, this order finds no good cause here. As a preliminary matter, 14 the portions in dispute do not contain trade secrets; rather, those portions reveal general details 15 of how the Patent Award program worked. Furthermore, defendant declares that its competitors 16 “would” or “could” copy the program if sealing is denied, but does not explain how information 17 regarding the Patent Award program would give its competitors an advantage, especially as it is 18 undisputed that defendant itself has discontinued the program this year (see, e.g., Jhanb Decl. ¶ 19 8). Furthermore, given that this is a putative class action, there is a public interest in having 20 potential class members and the public be aware of this action’s allegations, which presumably 21 will involve general details of how the Patent Award program worked. 22 The motion to seal is thus DENIED. 23 24 IT IS SO ORDERED. 25 26 Dated: September 16, 2014. WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 27 28 2

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