Corning Optical Communications RF, LLC v. PPC Broadband, Inc., IPR2014-00736, PTAB Paper 37 (April 6, 2015)

The PTAB recently denied part of a Joint Motion to Seal for being conclusory and containing “essentially no presentation of specific facts for meaningful analysis.” The parties sought to seal a Motion to Dismiss Petition for failure to identify all real parties-in-interest because it contained information about which company was invoiced by Petitioner’s counsel, which company paid Petitioner’s counsel, who are the Officers of a [c]orporation, who attended settlement meetings, and who reviewed or gave instructions to petitioner’s counsel.

When the Board authorized the parties to submit a motion to seal, it emphasized that the motion “must explain adequately why the information sought to be sealed in fact constitutes confidential information that should be sealed.” The joint motion submitted in this proceeding, however, merely identified information sought to be sealed on the basis of financial confidential information, which, according to the Board, does not establish entitlement to the relief requested. Furthermore, the exhibits attached to the Motion to Dismiss were excessively redacted such that no compensation information appeared to be present. The Board clarified that “material is not confidential business information simply because it relates to an activity of a business.”

The parties also attempted to rely on several theories that were each rejected by the Board. For instance, the Board held that simply because information is subject to a protective order in this proceeding or another case does not mean a motion to seal such information automatically should be granted. In rejecting the Motion’s argument that the information was subject to a Mutual Non-Disclosure and Fed. R. Evid. 408 Agreement, the Board held that the Motion failed to present the underlying facts that would show how Rule 408 applied. Finally, the Board found that the Motion failed to address how the parties’ interest in protecting truly sensitive information in this case was properly balanced against the public’s interest in maintaining a complete and understandable file history.

The Board’s decision shows that even motions to seal that are agreed upon by the parties must present sufficient facts and meaningful analysis to establish entitlement to the requested relief, and merely because information relates to an activity of a business, or is subject to a protective order or non-disclosure agreement, does not make that information confidential. Motions to seal are often used by all parties in patent proceedings to protect valuable intellectual property, so patent owners and petitioners alike should ensure their motions are both informative and meaningful.

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