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Apple’s Motion to Seal eDiscovery Vendor Invoice Line Items Granted by Court: eDiscovery Case Law

In GPNE Corp. v. Apple, Inc., 12-CV-02885-LHK (N.D. Cal. July 16, 2015), California District Judge Lucy H. Koh granted the defendant’s motion to file under seal specific line items from third-party e-discovery vendor invoices that were submitted in support of its bill of costs.

The defendant had sought to file the portions under seal because they stated that the invoices contained “sensitive and confidential information regarding the costs Apple incurred in defending against the patent infringement claims”, stating that they “reveal sensitive and confidential information regarding Apple’s financial relationship with its e-discovery vendor” and the information “could be used by Apple competitors to its disadvantage, as disclosure of the redacted information will reveal confidential pricing strategy and Apple’s financial relationship with its e-discovery vendor.”

Judge Koh started by observing that “Historically, courts have recognized a ‘general right to inspect and copy public records and documents, including judicial records and documents’…Accordingly, when considering a sealing request, ‘a strong presumption in favor of access is the starting point.’”  But, she also noted that “Records attached to nondispositive motions are not subject to the strong presumption of access…Because the documents attached to nondispositive motions ‘are often unrelated, or only tangentially related, to the underlying cause of action,’ parties moving to seal must meet the lower ‘good cause’ standard of Rule 26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure…The ‘good cause’ standard requires a ‘particularized showing’ that ‘specific prejudice or harm will result’ if the information is disclosed.”

Judge Koh also stated that “Pursuant to Rule 26(c), a trial court has broad discretion to permit sealing of court documents for, inter alia, the protection of “a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information.”  Referring to the defendant’s motion as “nondispositive”, Judge Koh applied “the ‘good cause’ standard to Defendant’s request” and found that “Defendant has made a ‘particularized showing’ that ‘specific prejudice or harm will result’ if certain confidential terms of Defendant’s financial relationship with its e-discovery vendor are made public.”  Therefore, Judge Koh granted the defendant’s motion to seal as to the proposed redactions in the exhibit.

So, what do you think?  Should eDiscovery vendor pricing be considered confidential?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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