Apple, Samsung bids for secrecy denied in patent suit

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In an order handed down late Tuesday U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh rejected requests from Apple and Samsung to keep sensitive company data from being released to the public saying that both companies "overdesignated" what documents should be kept confidential.

The rejection is the latest in a string of such rulings as Judge Koh attempts to whittle down the scope of patent litigation between the two electronics industry heavyweights before the claim-heavy case moves to a jury trial, reports Reuters.

In the order Judge Koh explained that parties seeking to seal certain records in cases tried in the Ninth Circuit must show both "good cause" and meet a "compelling reasons" standard. She goes on to remind both companies of a late June trial management hearing in which the court noted that “the whole trial is going to be open.”

From the order:

At this stage of the proceedings, the presumption of openness will apply to all documents and only documents of exceptionally sensitive information that truly deserve protection will be allowed to be redacted or kept from the public. Nearly all of the documents which met the lower, “good cause” standard do not meet the higher, “compelling reasons” standard for trial.
Unless the court document in question is a "traditionally kept secret" such as business or trade operations there is a “strong presumption in favor of access.” In order to overcome this assumption a party must “'articulate[ ] compelling reasons supported by specific factual findings,' that outweigh the general history of access and the public policies favoring disclosure, such as the 'public interest in understanding the judicial process.'"

She adds that the Ninth Circuit augments the "compelling reasons" standard by requiring evidence of “good cause” to keep sealed records attached to non-dispositive motions. The combination of requirements creates a two tiered system that views judicial records attached to dispositive motions differently than records attached to non-dispositive motions.

Judge Koh writes that "[n]early all of the documents which met the lower, “good cause” standard do not meet the higher, “compelling reasons” standard for trial."

Apple and Samsung must now reevaluate the documents they want sealed and present them again to Judge Koh at a later date.