Thale v. Apple, Inc

Filing 72

ORDER by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers denying 62 Administrative Motion to File Documents Under Seal (fs, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/15/2012)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 TAEA THALE, Plaintiff, 8 9 10 11 Case No. 11-cv-03778-YGR v. APPLE, INC., ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT APPLE INC.’S ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION TO FILE DOCUMENTS UNDER SEAL IN SUPPORT OF APPLE INC.’S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT Defendant. 12 13 On November 1, 2012, Defendant Apple Inc. filed an Administrative Motion to File 14 Documents Under Seal in Support of Its Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (“Motion”). 15 (Dkt. No. 62.) The documents sought to be sealed by the Motion (collectively, “Documents”) 16 consist of either (i) documents produced or designated as “Confidential” under the Protective 17 Order in this action (Dkt. No. 57), including deposition transcript excerpts, or (ii) selected 18 portions of Defendant’s motion for partial summary judgment, separate statement, or declarations 19 in support thereof. (Motion at 1–2.) Defendant describes the Documents as containing 20 confidential business information (which it does not disclose publicly), such as financial or 21 iPhone sales information, information regarding business dealings with third parties (including 22 Defendant’s advertising agency), or other proprietary business practices. (Id.) Defendant asserts 23 that “[f]inancial data regarding Apple’s iPhone sales and the terms of certain license agreements 24 entered into by Apple are commercially sensitive, non-public business information that should 25 remain confidential,” that it has a “legitimate business interest in protecting the confidentiality of 26 its business dealings and agreements,” and that it “would be prejudiced if such information 27 became publicly available.” (Declaration of David M. Walsh in Support of Apple Inc.’s 28 Administrative Motion to File Documents Under Seal (Dkt. No. 62-1) ¶ 3.) No specific argument 1 is made in the Motion as to the precise harm that would result if the Documents were publicly- 2 disclosed. 3 A motion to seal documents attached to a dispositive motion that are part of the judicial 4 record is governed by the “compelling reasons” standard. Pintos v. Pacific Creditors Ass’n, 605 5 F.3d 665, 678 (9th Cir. 2010). A “party seeking to seal judicial records must show that 6 ‘compelling reasons supported by specific factual findings . . . outweigh the general history of 7 access and the public policies favoring disclosure.’” Id. (quoting Kamakana v. City and County 8 of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178–79 (9th Cir. 2006)). The trial court must weigh relevant 9 factors including the “public interest in understanding the judicial process and whether disclosure 10 of the material could result in improper use of the material for scandalous or libelous purposes or 11 infringement upon trade secrets.” Pintos, 605 F.3d at 679 n. 6 (quoting Hagestad v. Tragesser, 12 49 F.3d 1430, 1434 (9th Cir. 1995)). In effect, an order authorizing sealing of a document would 13 require the court to lock the courtroom doors as to the proffered material during trial. While the 14 decision to grant or deny a motion to seal is within the trial court’s discretion, the basis must be 15 compelling and the court must articulate its reasoning in approving such a request. Pintos, 605 16 F.3d at 679. Further, given the importance of the competing interests at stake, any sealing order 17 must be narrowly tailored. Civ. L.R. 79-5(a). “A stipulation . . . that allows a party to designate 18 documents as sealable[] will not suffice to allow the filing of documents under seal.” Id. 19 (emphasis supplied). 20 The majority of the Documents contain Defendant’s own confidential business or 21 financial information. While it appears that certain Documents may have been produced by a 22 third-party, the only explanations for why a sealing order is appropriate, however, come from 23 Defendant. No response to the Motion was filed by Plaintiff, nor did any third-party whose 24 business information may be implicated by the Motion make a showing for why their documents 25 should be sealed. See Civ. L.R. 79-5(d). 26 The Court hereby DENIES this Motion because Defendant has not met its burden of 27 showing that the Documents are sealable. It is insufficient to argue generically that the 28 information is confidential, not otherwise publicly-disclosed, and would cause “irreparable -2- 1 injury” if disclosed. (Motion at 1.) No showing has been made that information at issue is a trade 2 secret or otherwise entitled to protection under the law. Moreover, designation under the 3 Protective Order as “Confidential” does not confer sealable status under Civ. L.R. 79-5. In fact, 4 the Protective Order states that “[p]ursuant to Civil Local Rule 79-5 and General Order 62, a 5 sealing order will issue only upon a request establishing that the Protected Material at issue is 6 privileged, protectable as a trade secret, or otherwise entitled to protection under the law.” 7 (Emphasis supplied.) For these reasons, the Motion is DENIED. 8 9 10 The Documents at issue in this Motion must be publicly-filed by November 20, 2012. It is Defendant’s responsibility to ensure that the Chambers binder of the moving papers and supporting documents is updated, if necessary. 11 This Order terminates Dkt. No. 62. 12 IT IS SO ORDERED. 13 14 Dated: November 15, 2012 _______________________________________ YVONNE GONZALEZ ROGERS UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 -3-

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?