Samsung Elecs. Co. v. NVIDIA Corp.

Addressing the standard for sealing documents in inter partes review (IPR) proceedings, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB or Board) denied a patent owner’s motion to seal documents where the only justification provided was that the documents “should be sealed because of the confidential information contained therein.” Samsung Elecs. Co. v. NVIDIA Corp., Case No. IPR2015-01028 (PTAB, Oct. 14, 2015) (Bunting, APJ).

The patent owner filed a preliminary response to an IPR request, along with several supporting exhibits, which it sought to seal. The patent owner premised its accompanying motion to seal on the naked assertion that the documents contain confidential information. The patent owner did not indicate that it had conferred with the petitioner regarding the motion and did not provide any proposed redactions to the exhibits. Citing a strong public policy in favor of open access to IPR records, the Board held that the patent owner had not satisfied its burden to show good cause why the exhibits should be sealed. The Board emphasized that the failure to file proposed redactions deprived the Board of the ability to evaluate whether the redactions are limited to truly confidential information. Nevertheless, the Board allowed the patent owner to refile its motion within two weeks, requiring the renewed motion to explain “why each document or redacted portion of a document is confidential such that it outweighs the public interest in an open record.” The Board agreed to treat the patent owner’s documents as confidential until the motion is decided.

Practice Note: The PTAB is committed to protecting the public’s right to access and learn from the records in its proceedings. When practicing before the PTAB, file proposed redactions alongside motions to seal. Redact sparingly and be prepared to justify each redaction.