In a promising step toward transparency, the Eastern District of Texas (the court that sees many of the nation’s patent cases) recently announced an amendment to its Local Rules that would require parties to file redacted versions of documents that contain confidential information. Previously, parties would file whole briefs under seal, without any public version being provided, even if only one word or line in the brief was claimed to be confidential. One of the few ways the public could protest against this improper sealing was to attempt to intervene in cases so as to require the parties and the courts to justify the sealing. But members of the public can’t possibly intervene to unseal in every case. This rule change is a step toward greater transparency.
EFF has, in recent years, worked to push back against oversealing, especially in patent cases where improper sealing is practically routine. We successfully intervened in several cases in order to provide greater transparency to the public.
For example, EFF recently successfully unsealed materials in the case of My Health v. ALR Technologies. We intervened after the parties filed numerous briefs and documents under seal relating to whether patent owner My Health (whose patent on telehealth we awarded Stupid Patent of the Month in May 2016) litigated its case in an exceptional manner. The court recently agreed to unseal a large amount of information previously withheld from the public.
EFF has also been pushing for greater transparency in the high profile patent litigation between Allergan (a branded pharmaceutical company) and generic…