Plexxikon Inc. v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation

Filing 452

ORDER by Judge Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. GRANTING Dkt. No. 394 Plaintiff's Administrative Motion for Leave to Move for Reconsideration of Motions to Seal. (hsglc1S, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 3/31/2021)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 PLEXXIKON INC., Plaintiff, 8 v. 9 10 11 NOVARTIS PHARMACEUTICALS CORPORATION, United States District Court Northern District of California Defendant. Case No. 17-cv-04405-HSG ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE FOR RECONSIDERATION OF MOTIONS TO SEAL Re: Dkt. No. 394 12 Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Plexxikon Inc.’s administrative motion for leave to 13 14 move for reconsideration of its motions to seal. Dkt. No. 394. For the reasons detailed below, the 15 Court GRANTS the motion. 16 17 I. LEGAL STANDARD Courts generally apply a “compelling reasons” standard when considering motions to seal 18 documents. Pintos v. Pac. Creditors Ass’n, 605 F.3d 665, 678 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Kamakana 19 v. City & Cty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006)). “This standard derives from the 20 common law right ‘to inspect and copy public records and documents, including judicial records 21 and documents.’” Id. (quoting Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178). “[A] strong presumption in favor of 22 access is the starting point.” Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178 (quotations omitted). To overcome this 23 strong presumption, the party seeking to seal a judicial record attached to a dispositive motion 24 must “articulate compelling reasons supported by specific factual findings that outweigh the 25 general history of access and the public policies favoring disclosure, such as the public interest in 26 understanding the judicial process” and “significant public events.” Id. at 1178–79 (quotations 27 omitted). “In general, ‘compelling reasons’ sufficient to outweigh the public’s interest in 28 disclosure and justify sealing court records exist when such ‘court files might have become a 1 vehicle for improper purposes,’ such as the use of records to gratify private spite, promote public 2 scandal, circulate libelous statements, or release trade secrets.” Id. at 1179 (quoting Nixon v. 3 Warner Commc’ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 598 (1978)). “The mere fact that the production of records 4 may lead to a litigant’s embarrassment, incrimination, or exposure to further litigation will not, 5 without more, compel the court to seal its records.” Id. Civil Local Rule 79-5 supplements the “compelling reasons” standard. The party seeking 6 7 to file under seal must submit “a request that establishes that the document, or portions thereof, are 8 privileged, protectable as a trade secret or otherwise entitled to protection under the law . . . . The 9 request must be narrowly tailored to seek sealing only of sealable material . . . .” Civil L.R. 795(b). Courts have found that “confidential business information” in the form of “license 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 agreements, financial terms, details of confidential licensing negotiations, and business strategies” 12 satisfies the “compelling reasons” standard. See In re Qualcomm Litig., No. 3:17-cv-0108-GPC- 13 MDD, 2017 WL 5176922, at *2 (S.D. Cal. Nov. 8, 2017) (observing that sealing such information 14 “prevent[ed] competitors from gaining insight into the parties’ business model and strategy”); 15 Finisar Corp. v. Nistica, Inc., No. 13-cv-03345-BLF (JSC), 2015 WL 3988132, at *5 (N.D. Cal. 16 June 30, 2015). Records attached to nondispositive motions must meet the lower “good cause” standard of 17 18 Rule 26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as such records “are often unrelated, or only 19 tangentially related, to the underlying cause of action.” Id. at 1179–80 (quotations omitted). This 20 requires a “particularized showing” that “specific prejudice or harm will result” if the information 21 is disclosed. Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. Gen. Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1210–11 (9th 22 Cir. 2002); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c). “Broad allegations of harm, unsubstantiated by specific 23 examples of articulated reasoning” will not suffice. Beckman Indus., Inc. v. Int’l Ins. Co., 966 24 F.2d 470, 476 (9th Cir. 1992) (quotation omitted). 25 26 II. DISCUSSION Plaintiff Plexxikon Inc. and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation filed a number of 27 administrative motions to file under seal in connection with their summary judgment, Daubert, 28 and in limine motions. The Court issued an omnibus order granting in part and denying in part 2 1 these motions. See Dkt. No. 386. Plaintiff now requests that the Court reconsider this order 2 regarding four specific documents: 3 4 • Exclude Expert Testimony of Gregory K. Leonard, Ph.D., Dkt. No. 202-3; 5 6 Exhibit 2 to the Declaration of Tom Steindler in Support of Defendant’s Motion to • Excerpts of Plaintiff’s Opposition to Defendant’s Motion to Exclude Expert 7 Testimony of Gregory K. Leonard, Ph.D. (“Leonard Daubert Opposition”), Dkt. 8 No. 325; 9 • Leonard Daubert Opposition, Dkt. No. 325-2; and 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Excerpts of Exhibit 1 to the Declaration of Laura E. Miller in Support of the • Exhibit 1 to the Declaration of Laura E. Miller in Support of Plaintiff’s Motion to Exclude the Opinions and Testimony of James E. Malackowski, Dkt. No. 169-2. 12 13 14 Plaintiff acknowledges that it belatedly filed declarations to establish that these documents contain 15 sealable information regarding Plaintiff’s trade secrets and licensing information. See Dkt. Nos. 16 314-2, 394-1. 17 Having considered these declarations and Plaintiff’s argument, the Court finds that 18 Plaintiff has met the standard for reconsideration pursuant to Civil L.R. 7-9(b). The Court applies 19 the lower good cause standard for these documents because they relate to the parties’ Daubert 20 motions. The Court finds that Plaintiff has narrowly tailored its requested redactions to 21 confidential and proprietary licensing information. The public release of these documents could 22 give non-party competitors an unfair advantage in future licensing negotiations with Plaintiff and 23 Plaintiff’s business partners. See In re Elec. Arts, Inc., 298 F. App’x 568, 569 (9th Cir. 2008) 24 (ordering sealing where documents could be used “‘as sources of business information that might 25 harm a litigant’s competitive standing’”) (quoting Nixon v. Warner Commc’ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 26 598 (1978)). Thus, the Court finds that Plaintiff has established good cause to seal the documents 27 as detailed in the table below. See, e.g., Linex Techs., Inc. v. Hewlett-Packard Co., No. C 13-159 28 CW, 2014 WL 6901744 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 8, 2014); Apple Inc. v. Samsung Elecs. Co., Ltd., No. 113

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