Trading Techs. Int’l, Inc. v. eSpeed, Inc., No. 04 C 5312, 1079, 4088, 4120, 4811 & 5164, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. May 23, 2008) (Moran, Sen. J.).*
Judge Moran granted plaintiff Trading Technologies’ (“TT”) motion for a protective order, but denied its request for its fees related to the motion. TT used two videos of third part Walter Brumfield’s trading screen and a portion of one of Brumfield’s daily trading records (collectively the “Evidence”) as evidence during the Court’s inequitable conduct bench trial. Despite prior designation as “Attorneys’ Eyes Only” pursuant to a protective order and having been sealed in the parties’ previous filings, the Evidence was presented in open court without any protections. Additionally, it was designated on exhibit lists submitted in connection with the bench trial without any confidentiality designation.
The first business day after the bench trial, TT contacted defendant eSpeed to confirm that the Evidence was to be treated as confidential. But eSpeed, and the other defendants in the related cases, objected arguing that by using the Evidence at trial without any protections or designations, TT waived confidentiality.
The Court acknowledged a “strong presumption of public access to court proceedings and records . . . .” But noting that the presumption is not absolute and that the parties seeking disclosure here were defendants not the press or public, the Court held that the Evidence retained its confidential status for the following reasons:
- The videos showing Brumfield’s custom-designed computer screen configuration was a trade secret and its disclosure could harm Brumfield’s competitive trading advantage;
- TT’s public disclosure of the Evidence was inadvertent as evidenced by the numerous times the Evidence was previously treated as confidential; and
- To the extent the Court relied on the Evidence in its opinion (click here to read the Blog’s post about the opinion), it did not do so in sufficient technical detail to disclose the confidential elements of the Evidence.
Additionally, the Court noted that while Brumfield’s attorney did receive copies of the exhibit list showing the Evidence without confidentiality designations and TT had periodically represented Brumfield’s interest throughout the case, neither Brumfield nor his counsel were in attendance to object when the Evidence was used during the bench trial. The Court does not specifically say whether or how these facts played into its decision. But the facts were included in the Court’s description of the facts and, therefore, the Court appears to have considered them relevant.
* Click here to read much more about this case in the Blog’s archives and click here for this opinion.