Court Permits Apple To File Its eDiscovery Vendor Invoices Under Seal
In GPNE Corp. v. Apple Inc., Case No. 12-02885 (July 16, 2015), the Northern District of California considered Defendant Apple Inc.’s request that the court seal certain line items from invoices with its third-party eDiscovery vendor. Defendant Apple, a company known for being protective over information it considers confidential, sought to attach the invoices as exhibits in support of a bill of costs, and asserted that filing the invoices in open court would make public certain confidential terms of its financial relationship with its eDiscovery vendor.
The court reviewed the standard for filing a document under seal, comparing the standard for a dispositive motion exhibit and a nondispositive motion exhibit. The court cited to the Ninth Circuit decision Kamakana v. City & Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172 (9th Cir. 2006) for the proposition that courts historically favor the public’s right to inspect judicial records, and thus a strong presumption of access exists. The court noted that sealing judicial records relating to dispositive motions required a showing that the party has “compelling reasons supported by specific factual findings” outweighing the history of access and the disclosure public policy. To seal a judicial record for a nondispositive motion (like the bill of costs at issue here), on the other hand, calls for a much lower standard: a party need only show good cause, as such records are usually only tangentially related to the case. The court further cited to FRCP 26(c), which gives courts discretion to seal documents related to trade secrets and other confidential communications.
Based on its review of these standard, the court concluded that Defendant Apple had met its burden and permitted Apple to file certain portions of the eDiscovery vendor invoices under seal.