Life After Hate, Inc. a/k/a ExitUSA v. Free Radicals Project, Inc., No. 18 C 6967, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 10, 2019) (Cole, Mag. J.).

Magistrate Judge Cole granted plaintiff’s motion for a protective order limiting discovery to information reasonably relevant to plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction in this Lanham Act counterfeiting, infringement and deceptive trade practices case.

As an initial matter, the Court noted that because the parties had not conducted the required Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(f) conference, full discovery could not have started yet. If defendant wanted to conduct broad discovery, at a minimum it would need to schedule a Rule 26(f) conference in order to trigger the opening of discovery. In the absence of that, the parties were limited by Judge Kendall’s order allowing early discovery. The “only possible (and sensible) interpretation” of the order was that discovery was limited to issues surrounding the preliminary injunction motion.

Based upon that limitation, broad requests seeking “all documents” related to “any allegations and claims contained in the Complaint” or “regarding all current board members, employees, volunteers, contractors, and any and all others associated with Life After Hate . . .” were “well beyond” the scope of the preliminary injunction. The Court did note, however, that plaintiff could not withhold a document that was relevant to the Lanham Act claims at issue because it was also relevant to additional claims not at issue in the preliminary injunction.

The Court further explained its reasoning in more descriptive language, that defendant was free to “cast a net limited to those two claims and just happen to catch some fish relevant to the other claims as well . . . .” Defendants failure was in “target[ing] all the fish.”