United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO SEAL Re:ECF 109
LABSON FREEMAN United States District Judge
the Court is Defendant's motion to file under seal
portions of its reply in support of its motion to dismiss
Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint. ECF 109. For the
reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS the motion.
courts have recognized a ‘general right to inspect and
copy public records and documents, including judicial records
and documents.'” Kamakana v. City & Cty. of
Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting
Nixon v. Warner Commc'ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589,
597 & n. 7 (1978)). Accordingly, when considering a
sealing request, “a ‘strong presumption in favor
of access' is the starting point.” Id.
(quoting Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.,
331 F.3d 1122, 1135 (9th Cir. 2003)). Parties seeking to seal
judicial records relating to motions that are “more
than tangentially related to the underlying cause of
action” bear the burden of overcoming the presumption
with “compelling reasons” that outweigh the
general history of access and the public policies favoring
disclosure. Ctr. for Auto Safety v. Chrysler Grp.,
809 F.3d 1092, 1099 (9th Cir. 2016); Kamakana, 447
F.3d at 1178-79.
“while protecting the public's interest in access
to the courts, we must remain mindful of the parties'
right to access those same courts upon terms which will not
unduly harm their competitive interest.” Apple Inc.
v. Samsung Elecs. Co., Ltd., 727 F.3d 1214, 1228-29
(Fed. Cir. 2013). Records attached to motions that are
“not related, or only tangentially related, to the
merits of a case” therefore are not subject to the
strong presumption of access. Ctr. for Auto Safety,
809 F.3d at 1099; see also Kamakana, 447 F.3d at
1179 (“[T]he public has less of a need for access to
court records attached only to non-dispositive motions
because those documents are often unrelated, or only
tangentially related, to the underlying cause of
action.”). Parties moving to seal the documents
attached to such motions must meet the lower “good
cause” standard of Rule 26(c). Kamakana, 447
F.3d at 1179 (internal quotations and citations omitted).
This standard requires a “particularized showing,
” id., that “specific prejudice or harm
will result” if the information is disclosed.
Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. Gen. Motors
Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1210-11 (9th Cir. 2002);
see Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c). “Broad allegations
of harm, unsubstantiated by specific examples of articulated
reasoning” will not suffice. Beckman Indus., Inc.
v. Int'l Ins. Co., 966 F.2d 470, 476 (9th Cir.
1992). A protective order sealing the documents during
discovery may reflect the court's previous determination
that good cause exists to keep the documents sealed, see
Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179-80, but a blanket protective
order that allows the parties to designate confidential
documents does not provide sufficient judicial scrutiny to
determine whether each particular document should remain
sealed. See Civ. L.R. 79-5(d)(1)(A)
(“Reference to a stipulation or protective order that
allows a party to designate certain documents as confidential
is not sufficient to establish that a document, or portions
thereof, are sealable.”).
addition to making particularized showings of good cause,
parties moving to seal documents must comply with the
procedures established by Civ. L.R. 79-5. Pursuant to Civ.
L.R. 79-5(b), a sealing order is appropriate only upon a
request that establishes the document is “sealable,
” or “privileged or protectable as a trade secret
or otherwise entitled to protection under the law.”
“The request must be narrowly tailored to seek sealing
only of sealable material, and must conform with Civil L.R.
79-5(d).” Civ. L.R. 79-5(b). In part, Civ. L.R. 79-5(d)
requires the submitting party to attach a “proposed
order that is narrowly tailored to seal only the sealable
material” which “lists in table format each
document or portion thereof that is sought to be sealed,
” Civ. L.R. 79-5(d)(1)(b), and an “unredacted
version of the document” that indicates “by
highlighting or other clear method, the portions of the
document that have been omitted from the redacted
version.” Civ. L.R. 79-5(d)(1)(d). “Within 4 days
of the filing of the Administrative Motion to File Under
Seal, the Designating Party must file a declaration as
required by subsection 79-5(d)(1)(A) establishing that all of
the designated material is sealable.” Civ. L.R.
the sealing motion relates to a motion to dismiss a
complaint, which is more than tangentially related to the
merits of the case, the instant motion is resolved under the
compelling reasons standard. With this standard in mind, the
Court has reviewed Defendant's sealing motion and
declaration of George Ritchie in support thereof. According
to the declaration, all the highlighted portions should be
sealed because they contain technical proprietary
confidential information, including Plaintiffs trade secrets.
ECF 115-1 ¶¶ 5-6. The Court also finds the sealing
request to be narrowly tailored. Accordingly, the Court
GRANTS the request to seal the highlighted portions at ECF