Chamberlain Group v. The Lear Corp., No. 05 C 3449, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jul. 13, 2010) (St. Eve, J.).

Judge St. Eve granted in part plaintiff Chamberlain’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c)(1) motion for a protective order in this patent case involving garage door opening systems. The Court denied a protective order as to defendant Lear’s request for Chamberlain’s financial information. While Chamberlain claimed the sales information was not relevant because Chamberlain did not seek lost profit damages, Chamberlain’s interrogatory response said it did seek lost profit damages. Additionally, the financial information was relevant as it was reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence related to Chamberlain’s commercial success and its lost profits. 

The Court granted a protective order as to discovery related to Chamberlain’s new garage-door-opening algorithm. Chamberlain had not sold a product embodying the algorithm. So, it was irrelevant to a reasonable royalty calculation which looked to a hypothetical negotiation when infringement began. Furthermore, the algorithm was not relevant to an obviousness analysis. Finally, Chamberlain’s decision to produce more information related to the same algorithm did not make the algorithm relevant. 

The Court also entered a protective order preventing further deposition of a Chamberlain employee. The employee had already been deposed twice – once for two hours and once for a full day. To the extent Lear wanted to depose the employee about the new algorithm, the Court had already determined it was irrelevant. And despite repeated warnings to stop, Lear had already repeatedly questioned the employee about the algorithm.