Phoenix Technologies Ltd. v. VMware, Inc.

Filing 466

ORDER by Judge Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. GRANTING 452 MOTION TO SEAL. (ndrS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 8/31/2017)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 PHOENIX TECHNOLOGIES LTD., 8 Plaintiff, 9 v. 10 ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO SEAL VMWARE, INC., Re: Dkt. No. 452 Defendant. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California Case No. 15-cv-01414-HSG 12 13 14 On July 17, 2017, Plaintiff Phoenix Technologies LTD. filed an unopposed administrative motion to seal portions of the trial transcripts in this case. Dkt. No. 452. I. LEGAL STANDARD 15 “[A] ‘compelling reasons’ standard applies to most judicial records. This standard derives 16 from the common law right ‘to inspect and copy public records and documents, including judicial 17 records and documents.’” Pintos v. Pac. Creditors Ass’n, 605 F.3d 665, 678 (9th Cir. 2010) 18 (quoting Nixon v. Warner Commc’ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597 & n.7). “[A] ‘strong presumption in 19 favor of access’ is the starting point.” Kamakana v. City & Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 20 1178 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1135 (9th 21 Cir. 2003)). To overcome this strong presumption, the party seeking to seal a judicial record 22 related to a dispositive motion must “articulate compelling reasons supported by specific factual 23 findings that outweigh the general history of access and the public policies favoring disclosure, 24 such as the public interest in understanding the judicial process” and “significant public events.” 25 Id. at 1178-79 (internal citations, quotation marks, and alterations omitted). “In general, 26 ‘compelling reasons’ sufficient to outweigh the public’s interest in disclosure and justify sealing 27 court records exist when such ‘court files might have become a vehicle for improper purposes,’ 28 such as the use of records to gratify private spite, promote public scandal, circulate libelous 1 statements, or release trade secrets.” Id. at 1179 (citing Nixon, 435 U.S. at 598). “The mere fact 2 that the production of records may lead to a litigant’s embarrassment, incrimination, or exposure 3 to further litigation will not, without more, compel the court to seal its records.” Id. The court must “balance the competing interests of the public and the party who seeks to 5 keep certain judicial records secret. After considering these interests, if the court decides to seal 6 certain judicial records, it must base it decision on a compelling reason and articulate the factual 7 basis for its ruling, without relying on hypothesis or conjecture.” Id. at 1179. Civil Local Rule 8 79-5 supplements the compelling reasons standard set forth in Kamakana: the party seeking to file 9 a document or portions of it under seal must “establish[] that the document, or portions thereof, 10 are privileged, protectable as a trade secret or otherwise entitled to protection under the law. . . . 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 4 The request must be narrowly tailored to seek sealing only of sealable material.” Civil L.R. 79- 12 5(b). 13 II. DISCUSSION 14 Plaintiff seeks to seal “narrowly tailored portions of the trial transcript that contain 15 confidential and highly sensitive pricing information that could be used to Phoenix’s competitive 16 disadvantage.” Dkt. No. 452 at 2. In the pending motion to seal, Plaintiff argues that the 17 “compelling reasons” standard is met here because public access to the portions of the transcripts 18 sought to be sealed “would give current or potential customers of Phoenix insight into the 19 confidential licensing terms and pricing that Phoenix has offered to other customers, significantly 20 impairing Phoenix’s ability to negotiate pricing and other terms in the future,” and because 21 “Courts in the Northern District of California routinely seal those portions of trial transcripts that 22 contain such sensitive business information.” Id. at 2, 3 (listing cases). 23 The Court agrees that the proposed redactions of the trial transcripts contain sealable 24 material. The Court further finds that the proposed redactions are “narrowly tailored” to seal only 25 sealable material, as required by Civil Local Rule 79-5. The Court therefore GRANTS Plaintiff’s 26 motion to seal the identified portions of the trial transcripts. See Dkt. No. 452 at 3-5 (proposing 27 the redaction of certain information contained in pages 272:2, 276:10, 314:13, 432:12, 433:4, 28 434:7, 435:12, 436:3, 436:4, 436:6, 436:10, 436:13, 437:20, 437:22, 438:10, 444:6, 472:10, 2 1 472:11, 927:23, 927:25, 928:3, 928:4, 935:9, 935:16, 935:17, 1066:24, 1506:7, 1506:11, 1506:16, 2 1506:19, and Dkt. No. 440 at Transcript of 04- 29-2016, Deposition of Deanna Wang (00:00:23) 3 as played at trial: 18:2, and Dkt. No. 440 at Transcript of 03- 31-2016, Deposition of Matt Durbin 4 (00:01:01) as played a trial: 29:13; 38:6; 41:6; 41:15; 43:22; 44:3). 5 6 7 8 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: 8/31/2017 ______________________________________ HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. United States District Judge 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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