United States District Court, S.D. California
IN RE QUALCOMM LITIGATION, ECF No. Movant Document to be Sealed
ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS TO SEAL [DKT. NOS. 101, 120,
128, 147 IN CASE NO. 17-CV-108 AND DKT. NO. 118 IN CASE NO.
the Court are various motions to seal portions of the
parties' motions to dismiss and related pleadings and
exhibits in Case No. 3:17-cv-00108-GPC-MDD, ECF Nos. 101,
120, 128, 147, and a motion to seal Qualcomm's Answer
filed in Case No. 3:17-cv-01010-GPC-MDD, ECF No. 182. No
oppositions have been filed. Upon review of the moving
papers, the information to be sealed, the applicable law, and
for the following reasons, the Court GRANTS
each of the motions in their entirety.
is a presumptive right of public access to court records
based upon the common law and the first amendment. See
Nixon v. Warner Commc'ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597
(1978); Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. General
Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1212-13 (9th Cir. 2002).
Nonetheless, access may be denied to protect sensitive
confidential information. Courts are more likely to protect
information covered by Rule 26(c) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, but are not limited by items listed in
protective orders. See KL Group v. Case, Kay, &
Lynch, 829 F.2d 909, 917-19 (9th Cir. 1987) (letter to
client from attorney); Kalinauskas v. Wong, 151
F.R.D. 363, 365-67 (D. Nev. 1993) (confidential settlement
a particular court record is one traditionally kept secret, a
strong presumption in favor of access is the starting
point.” Kamakana v. City & Cty. of
Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178-80 (9th Cir. 2006) (citing
Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d
1122, 1135 (9th Cir. 2003)). “In order to overcome this
strong presumption, a party seeking to seal a judicial record
must articulate justifications for sealing that outweigh the
historical right of access and the public policies favoring
disclosure.” Id. at 1178-79.
seeking to seal documents in a dispositive motion must meet
the high threshold requiring “compelling reasons”
with specific factual findings to support a sealing.
Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178-80. However, for
non-dispositive motions, the parties must show a lesser
“particularized showing” under the “good
cause” standard pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 26(c). Id. at 1180. The “compelling
reasons” test requires showing more than just
“good cause.” Id. Documents filed under
seal will be limited to only those documents, or portions
thereof, necessary to protect such sensitive information.
to dismiss are typically treated as dispositive motions such
that the compelling reasons standard applies. See BT
Collective v. IP Holdings, LLC, 2011 WL 5873388, at *3
(S.D. Cal. Nov. 23, 2011) (citing In re PPA Products
Liability Litigation, 460 F.3d 1217, 1231 (9th Cir.
2006)) (“Motions to dismiss are typically treated as
dispositve.”) Courts also apply the “compelling
reasons” standard to motions to seal an answer and
counter-claim. See Delfino Green & Green v. Workers
Compansation Solutions, LLC, 2015 WL 4235356,
at *2 (N.D. Cal, July 13, 2015); Robert Half Int'l v.
Ainsworth, 2015 WL 4394805, *3 n.2 (S.D. Cal. July 15,
and especially considering the public's interest in being
able to access civil actions filed in the courts, the Court
will apply the “compelling reasons” standard to
the parties' requests to seal briefing involving motions
to dismiss and Qualcomm's answer.
reasons for sealing information exist “when such
‘court files might have become a vehicle for improper
purposes, ' such as the use of records to gratify private
spite, promote public scandal, circulate libelous statements,
or release trade secrets.” Kamakana, 447 F.3d
at 1179 (quoting Nixon, 435 U.S. at 598). Trade
secrets “may consist of any formula, pattern, device or
compilation of information which is used in one's
business, and which gives him an opportunity to obtain
advantage over competitions who do not know or use it.”
Restatement (First) of Torts § 757 cmt. b. Because trade
secrets concern proprietary and sensitive business
information not available to the public, sealing may be
warranted where disclosure would harm a litigant's
competitive standing. Nixon, 435 U.S. at 598.
Ninth Circuit has explicitly recognized that compelling
reasons exist for the sealing of “pricing terms,
royalty rates, and guaranteed minimum payment terms” of
license agreements. See In re Elec. Arts, Inc., 298
F. App'x 568, 569 (9th Cir. 2008). Courts in this circuit
have also recognized that information subject to
confidentiality agreements may also meet the
“compelling reasons” standard when accompanied by
a particularized factual showing. See Foltz v. State Farm
Mut. Auto. Ins. Co, 331 F.3d 1122, 1137-38 (9th Cir.
overwhelming majority of information that the parties seek to
seal fall into one of two categories: (1) confidential
business information, including trade secrets, and (2)
information subject to confidentiality agreements. For the
reasons that follow the Court concludes that the parties have
demonstrated that compelling reasons exist for sealing the
information subsumed by these two categories.
the Court is satisfied that compelling reasons exist to seal
the unredacted portions of the pleadings and briefing that
concern licensing terms, royalties paid or owed under license
agreements, financial terms, details of confidential
licensing negotiations, and business strategies, along with
those exhibits that contain the various confidential business
agreements executed among the parties. See In re Elec.
Arts, Inc., 298 F. App'x at 569. Each of the parties
has narrowly tailored their request to only redact the
portions of the filings and the precise exhibits that
implicate such confidential business information. Each of the
parties has also articulated that the information they seek
to seal is not available to the public and that the
disclosure of such information would harm their competitive
standing by releasing such information to competitors in the
telecommunications market. Each of the parties has, moreover,
submitted declarations providing the Court with a factual
basis for their claims of competitive harm. Accordingly, the
Court is satisfied that there is a sufficient factual basis
to justify concluding that compelling reasons exist for
sealing such information and exhibits.
the Court is also satisfied that compelling reasons exist to
seal the unredacted portions of the pleadings and briefing
that are subject to confidentiality provisions. The parties
have demonstrated that information subject to confidentiality
and non-disclosure provisions should also be sealed because
those provisions likewise prevent competitors from gaining
insight into the parties' business model and strategy.
Such insight could harm the parties in future negotiations
with existing customers, third-parties, and other entities
with whom they do business. The parties have, moreover,
submitted declarations from various company officers that
provide the Court with a factual basis for their claims that
disclosing information subject to confidentiality agreements
would harm the parties' respective competition standings.
As such, the Court is similarly satisfied that the narrowly
tailored requests of the parties, and the factual findings
submitted in support thereof, satisfy the compelling reasons
the Court finds that the parties' various requests to
seal have been narrowly tailored such that they do not impede
upon the public's ability to understand the nature of the
proceedings and the factual basis for the parties'
claims. As such and in the light of the aforementioned
compelling reasons justifying sealing, the ...