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Judge finds too many documents sealed in Microsoft case

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Judge finds too many documents sealed in Microsoft case 05/31/99 UTAH--In mid May, federal magistrate Ronald Boyce in Salt Lake…

Judge finds too many documents sealed in Microsoft case

05/31/99

UTAH–In mid May, federal magistrate Ronald Boyce in Salt Lake City affirmed that members of the news media have a First Amendment interest in antitrust litigation between Orem software company Caldera Inc. and industry giant Microsoft Inc. Boyce pledged to continue reviewing documents the firms ask to have sealed or redacted.

Boyce held that all documents “as to which any party believes there is a need for protection that outweighs any First Amendment interest or that no First Amendment interest can be legitimately asserted” must be submitted to the court with written justification for the seal.

However, Boyce held that members of the news media are not entitled to complete access, citing the companies’ legitimate interests in safeguarding trade secrets and other data. Following the May hearing, Microsoft agreed to provide a list specific enough for news organizations to decide which documents they want to see.

The Salt Lake Tribune, San Jose Mercury News and Bloomberg News asked Boyce in May to unseal as many as 40 pretrial exhibits and some 50 other sealed or heavily blacked-out documents.

In February, before hearing the news media complaints, Boyce had noted that a large amount of filings were being sealed, and ordered that the companies request permission from him before filing new documents under seal. Since then, the number of sealings dropped.

At the hearing in May, the news media argued that they still had concerns about the standard Boyce used to decide whether permission to seal should be granted and the status of the previously sealed records.

Caldera of Orem is suing Microsoft for pricing and marketing tactics it claims destroyed public demand for DR-DOS, an operating system that competed against Microsoft’s MS-DOS. (Caldera v. Microsoft; Media Counsel, Michael O’Brien, Salt Lake City)