Judge: William C. Bryson
Holding: Joint Motion to Seal Portions of the Trial Transcript Granted in Part
And here I thought Rosie the Riveter had the corner on patriotism. Stenographers, this one's for you.
Judge Bryson's opinion begins by setting forth the underlying principle that judicial proceedings in this country are to be conducted in public, and the rules applicable to requests to seal portions of the transcript of a trial. Towards the bottom of page 3 of the opinion, the court finishes with the law and begins to steer into the facts of the case, noting that the parties have moved to seal "significant portions" of the trial transcript, which despite the parties' characterization as "narrowly tailored excerpts" consist of nearly 100 portions of the transcript.
Judge Bryson was not persuaded that the excerpts were in fact "narrowly tailored", and noted that in their motion the parties had provided only a "bare-bones" explanation for why they believe sealing is necessary. While this absence of detail could, by itself, be deemed a failure to articulate a compelling reason that outweighs the general public policy favoring disclosure of court records, the Court noted that in earlier pleadings the parties had provided more detailed arguments. Although those arguments pertained to pleadings and orders, and not trial testimony, and were not re-argued in the current motion, the court assumed that the parties intended those arguments to be applicable, and therefore considered them as though raised.
The court concluded that sealing was appropriate for certain portions of the transcript revealing details of the invention disclosure they were not disclosed elsewhere in the public record. It also held that sealing was appropriate for very limited portions of the transcript relating to the nature of a presentation at issue. However, the court rejected the parties' request relating to the royalty rates for the design team and certain applicable profit margins.
The Court also noted that the parties request for sealing was contradicted to some extent by their failure to take "appropriate measures" to protect the material that they now wish to have sealed, specifically no request to close the courtroom was ever made during the trial, nor did the parties ever alert the court that they objected to public disclosure of certain portions of the testimony. Even after the issue was raised during the proceedings, the parties continue to not ask to have the courtroom closed or materials protected during hearings on sensitive issues. Nonethess the Court would not infer waiver. "Because the Court did not flag this issue for the parties prior to trial," Judge Bryson wrote, "the Court will not treat the parties' lax approach to the issue of protecting sensitive information from public disclosure as a waiver of their right now to seek sealing of the trial testimony."
The Court also perceived as a problem that the parties were asking to seal information, the substance of much of which had already been publicly disclosed, either through unsealed filings or in portions of the trial transcript that the parties had not moved to have sealed. The court helpfully provided not only citations to the record locations, but detailed the information that was sought to be sealed, but which was already in the record, and in some cases publicly reported. In the spirit of the Court's order, I am happy to note that those included "allusions to Globus’s royalty base profits of more than $100 million on Caliber and Rise (1/13/14 PM Tr. 10:6-12, 22:16-19; 1/15/14 AM Tr. 79:22-80:4), and net profits of $38.5 million (1/15/14 AM Tr. 46:6-12, 61:21-62-7, 77:17)." (You know, this is kind of fun ... when it's not my case).
The Court did agree to seal portions of the drawings, which the jury had found to be trade secrets, where they consisted of more detailed accounts of the drawings that had not otherwise been made public. Again, the Court noted specifically the descriptions of the drawings that were already a matter of public record. Similarly, the Court declined to seal information regarding royalty rates and excerpts of the transcript relating to the plaintiff's presentation to a third-party, given the information disclosed during the course of trial, again specifically noting transcript locations including in some cases citations to the opening and closing arguments.
Finally, the Court stayed the effect of the order for 10 days in the event that the parties wished to seek modification, reconsideration, or appellate review the court's decision. Since it is a slow day here on the farm waiting for somebody to get themselves in trouble across the proverbial way, I checked the docket, and neither party filed any objections to Judge Bryson's order, thus the redacted transcripts have now made their way onto the court docket.