Confidential Documents

At the Federal Circuit, confidential or sealed documents are governed by Federal Circuit Rule 25.1.  Filers should review Federal Circuit Rule 25.1 and relevant portions of the Electronic Filing Procedures before filing a confidential or sealed document. At the Federal Circuit, documents filed a “confidential” are treated the same as documents filed “under seal.”

For the filing of documents requiring a higher level of security, please review the Federal Circuit’s Procedures for the Filing, Service, and Management of Highly Sensitive Documents.

Filing Sensitive, Confidential, or Sealed Material

The parties and counsel are responsible for redacting all sensitive or confidential material from documents filed with the court.  See Fed. Cir. R. 25.1(a)(3).  The Clerk’s Office does not review documents for compliance with this rule.  However, on its own initiative or at the request of a party, the court may strike the document, direct other corrective action, and/or impose sanctions on any party failing to redact such information.  To ensure redactions do not remain accessible in filed documents, counsel may consider completely deleting the information in the original word processing document and replacing it with innocuous filler characters such as “X,” or a required general descriptor, if required pursuant to Fed. Cir. R. 25.1(e)(1)(B).

Access to Confidential or Sealed Materials

Confidential documents are not available to the public.  Within the court’s electronic filing system, users will not be able to access these documents. Documents filed as confidential or under seal will include a notation of such on the docket entry.  Absent court order, the Clerk’s Office may not provide access to confidential or sealed documents except to case participants served at the time of filing. See Fed. Cir. R. 45(b).

Service of Confidential or Sealed Documents

Documents to be filed as confidential or under seal documents must be served on parties and counsel through alternative methods, and it is the filer’s responsibility to ensure that all appropriate parties are served with the confidential document.  See Fed. Cir. R. 25(e)(3); Fed. Cir. R. 25.1(a)(2).  Because service is performed outside of the court’s electronic filing system, proof of service must be attached to the filing.  See Fed. Cir. R. 25(e)(3)–(4).

Certificate of Confidential Material

When filing a confidential or sealed version of a motion, petition, response, reply, or brief that includes material marked confidential under Fed. Cir. 25.1(d)(1), counsel must also include a Certificate of Confidential Material (Form 31).  See Fed. Cir. R. 25.1(e)(2).  Documents filed under Fed. Cir. R. 25.1(d)(1) without an attached Certificate of Confidential Material may be found non-compliant and require refiling.

Filing Confidential or Seal Material in Error

If a filer erroneously includes confidential or sealed information in a public filing or misfiles a confidential or sealed document using a public event, the filer should promptly call the Clerk’s Office at 202-275-8000 or 202-275-8055 during business hours.

If the error is discovered outside of business hours, a member of the Clerk’s Office can be reached from 4:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Eastern) on weekdays and 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Eastern) on holidays and weekends at 202-275-8049 or by submitting a request.