UNILOC 2017 LLC v. APPLE, INC

UNILOC 2017 LLC v. APPLE, INC, Appeal Nos. 2019-1922, 2019-1923, 2019-1925, 2019-1926  (Fed. Cir. July 9, 2020).  Before Mayer, Prost, and Taranto.  Appealed from N.D. Cal. (Judge Alsup).  (Motions to Seal)

Background:

Uniloc sued Apple for patent infringement.  Apple filed a motion to dismiss the case, and Uniloc filed an opposition to the motion to dismiss.  Uniloc also filed a motion to seal most of the materials in the parties’ briefs and twenty-three exhibits in their entirety.  The materials and exhibits included certain facts that were already known to the public, such as quotations from case law and a list of Uniloc’s active patent cases.  Uniloc filed three short declarations to support the sealing requests, asserting that the materials and exhibits contained “sensitive, confidential, and proprietary information” related to licensing terms and business plans.

The district court denied the motion to seal, stating that Uniloc had not provided compelling reasons to seal such a broad range of material, which amounted to a majority of the exhibits and large swaths of the briefs and declarations, and that as a result the motion did not comply with Local Rule 79-5, which requires that motions to seal be narrowly tailored.

Uniloc then filed a motion for leave to seek reconsideration and a revised motion to seal, stating that it was willing to make public more than ninety percent of what it had previously attempted to seal, and that third parties (Uniloc licensees) would also be harmed by disclosure of the material in question.  In response, the district court denied the motion for leave and the revised motion to seal, holding that Uniloc should have submitted a proper request the first time.  Furthermore, Uniloc had failed to sufficiently explain why even the more narrowly defined motion to seal was justified.  Uniloc appealed.

Issues/Holdings:

(1) Did the district court abuse its discretion in denying the motion to seal and denying the motion for reconsideration with regard to Uniloc’s own allegedly confidential information?

(2) Was the district court’s ruling improper with regard to the third parties who could be affected by disclosure of their allegedly confidential information?  (continue reading)

Summary byArun Shome

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