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‘Show Cause’ Ordered for Sealing Request

In this litigation over plaintiff company’s complaint that AOL, Google and other defendants have used plaintiff’s search advertising systems to infringe two of plaintiff’s patents, the magistrate judge for the Norfolk U.S. District Court says the parties must appear and show specific reasons why sealing portions of a memorandum in support of defendants’ motion for summary judgment serves a compelling interest, governmental or private, and why there is no less restrictive way to serve that compelling interest.

The parties have agreed that certain information contained in these materials should remain confidential, but when discovery material is classified confidential by the parties, their classification is not binding on the court.

Noting that summary judgment “adjudicates substantive rights and serves as a substitute for trial,” the 4th Circuit has held that the more rigorous First Amendment standard should also apply to documents filed in connection with a summary judgment motion in a civil case. The defendants have requested to file portions of the memorandum in support of their motion for summary judgment, together with portions of a declaration and certain exhibits in support of that motion, under seal.

The parties merely characterize the materials at issue in conclusory fashion as “data that is and should be kept confidential.” Neither they nor plaintiff has presented specific reasons in support of their position.

The court orders the parties to show cause why the unredacted version of the memorandum and related materials should not be unsealed and filed in the public record.

I/P Engine Inc. v. AOL Inc. (Stillman) No. 2:11cv512, Sept. 13, 2012; USDC at Norfolk, Va.; Donald C. Schultz for plaintiff; Stephen E. Noona for defendants. VLW 012-3-459, 6 pp.

VLW 012-3-459

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