DSM Desotech, Inc. v. 3D Sys. Corp., No. 08 C 1531, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 12, 2011) (Nolan, Mag. J.)
Judge Nolan granted in part defendant 3D System’s motion to compel further Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6) testimony from plaintiff DSM Desotech (“DSM”) in this patent dispute regarding 3D Systems Zephyr recoater. First, the Court held that the rules, responsibilities and dates of prosecution counsel’s involvement was neither privileged, nor work product. Similarly, whether prosecution counsel was aware of the Zephyr recoater during prosecution was not privileged.
The Court held that a Local Rule 83.51.10 screen of DSM’s former counsel, which had moved to a firm representing 3D Systems, did not prevent DSM from contacting its counsel to determine what they knew about the Zephyr recoater at the relevant time. Local Rule 83.51.10 does literally require that plaintiff have no contact “for or against” 3D Systems. But that reading is inconsistent with the purposes of the Rule.
Desotech was not required to gather information from a company it acquired, for the period before the acquisition. Pre-acquisition knowledge would not be imputed to the acquiring entity, DSM in this case. The Court also held that the fact that 3D Systems could or had gathered the requested information from other witnesses or documents did not relieve DSM of its duty to provide Rule 30(b)(6) testimony.
Finally, the Court denied both parties’ requests for sanctions because there was room for reasonable disagreement between the parties.

Continue Reading Court Distinguishes Non-Privileged Facts About Counsel

Square D Co. v. Elec. Soln’s, Inc., No. 07 C 6294, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill., Jul. 22, 2008) (Moran, Sen. J.).
Judge Moran granted plaintiffs’ motion to reopen discovery and compel production of certain documents, but tabled plaintiff’s motion for sanctions. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants were selling counterfeit electrical products using plaintiffs’ trademarks. The parties entered an agreed preliminary injunction pursuant to which defendant agreed not to sell any products with plaintiffs’ trademarks, and to plaintiffs’ inspection of defendants’ inventory on or before February 29, 2008, unless the parties agreed to a later date.
When plaintiffs performed their inspection in April 2008, defendants had almost no inventory, had continued to sell trademarked products, and had few sales records. Defendants countered that they believed they were free to continue selling after February 29 because no injunctions had occurred as of that date. The Court ordered production of sales and other documents, and withheld judgment on sanctions for any violation of the preliminary injunction.
Practice Tip: When agreeing to an injunction, or any joint document, make sure the language is clear as to the parties’ obligations and that the parties agree on them.

Continue Reading Court Compels Discovery and Withholds Judgment on Sanctions

Autotech Techs. Ltd. Partnership v. Automationdirect.com, Inc., No. 05 C 5488 2008 WL 783301 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 25, 2008) (Cole, Mag. J.).*
Judge Cole granted in part defendant Automationdirect.com’s (“ADC”) motion to compel additional records from plaintiff Autotech’s database. The parties agreed that an ADC expert would be allowed to develop queries which Autotech would run on its database. After a dispute regarding how to produce the results of the search, the Court ordered production of the documents, which related to records of, among other things, customer confusion. Upon review of the records, ADC demanded that Autotech supplement them with information such as the date of the communication and the identity of the Autotech employees involved. Autotech eventually supplemented the documents with an index identifying, among other things, the identity of the Autotech employee involved in each communication, but not the dates of the communications. ADC moved to compel the production of all fields in Autotech’s database for each entry identified by ADC’s query. But Autotech countered that it had produced all fields generated by ADC’s expert’s query. Had the query generated all available fields, they, presumably, would have been produced them all. Because Autotech produced the information generated by ADC’s search and supplemented that production with an index, sanctions were not warranted. But the Court did order production, at ADC’s expense, of the dates of each communication. The Court also ordered the parties to meet and confer to determine how to produce the dates in a useful format.
*Click here for more of this case in the Blog’s archives.

Continue Reading Incomplete Discovery Not Sanctionable Because it Complied With Requestors’ Expert Request

Autotech Techs. Ltd. Partnership v. Automationdirect.com, Inc., No. 05 C 5488, 2008 WL 783303 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 25, 2008) (Cole, Mag. J.).*
Judge Cole granted in part plaintiff Autotech’s motion to compel communications between defendant Automationdirect.com, Inc. (“ADC”) and any third party regarding ADC’s competing C-More touch screen panel. The Court held that ADC need not produce documents related to source code for the C-More product. The Court previously denied Autotech’s motion to amend its complaint adding claims related to that source code. But the Court held that ADC’s third party communications could be relevant to show whether ADC has complied with its contractual obligation to use its best efforts to sell Autotech’s product, or if its C-More sales efforts interfered with sales of Autotech’s products. The Court also held that any communication evidencing customer confusion must be produced.
Practice Tip: Do not employ new arguments in reply briefs. The Court did not consider Autotech’s reply brief because it changed the scope of its argument on reply. Autotech’s opening brief sought ADC’s third party communications with the exception of those regarding ADC’s source code because claims regarding ADC’s software were not in the case. But on reply, Autotech also sought the source code related communications.
*Click here for more about this case in the Blog’s archives.

Continue Reading Incomplete Discovery No Sanctionable Because it Complied With Requestors’ Expert Request

Se-Kure Controls, Inc. v. Diam USA, Inc., No. 06 C 4857, 2008 WL 169029 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 17, 2008) (Cox, Mag. J.).*
Judge Cox granted in part a motion to compel discovery regarding defendant’s advice of counsel defense. The Court ordered defendants to product a technical witness that provided opinion counsel information because opinion counsel was unable to remember the substance of conversations between the two.
The Court also ordered production of communications between opinion counsel and trial counsel related to the patent in suit. These communications were within the scope of defendant’s waiver, even though a deposition of trial counsel would not have been allowed.
The Court did not allow plaintiff to take any additional fact depositions. Plaintiff argued it had waited to take certain fact depositions because the witnesses were expected to be Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6) designers regarding defendants’ willfulness defense. But the Court did not allow the deposition because fact discovery was closed and because plaintiff had deposed other witnesses on the same topics.
The most exciting part of this opinion, however, was its form, not its substance – Judge Cox used footnotes for cites. While this format is infinitely more readable and has many prominent advocates – Brian Garner, Ken Adams, me (perhaps not the most prominent but I am an advocate of footnote citation) – it is a bold move in the typically conservative realm of judicial writing. At least one other Northern District Judge, Chief Judge Holderman, has used footnote citation. If you are aware of other examples, let me know.
Thank you Judge Cox.
* Click here for more on this case and related cases in the Blog’s archives.

Continue Reading Opinion Letter Discovery and Footnote Citation

Flentye v. Kathrein, No. 06 C 3492, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Oct 2, 2007) (Cole, Mag. J.).*
Judge Cole continued defendants’ motion to compel for one week because defendants had not conducted a Local Rule 37.2 conference before filing their motion. But the Court also provided its thoughts on the prosecution of discovery, both in this specific case and generally. The Court noted that after one year of discovery, “not a single document was produced in response to the 70 paragraph document request!”
But what is most interesting about the opinion is the Court’s quotes on various discovery issues. On discovery generally:
“[D]iscovery is the bane of modern federal litigation.” Rossetto v. Pabst Brewing Co., Inc., 217 F.3d 539, 542 (7th Cir. 2000). It is intrusive, unpleasant, time-consuming and costly. It is, like life itself, “nasty [and] brutish …” Hobbes, Leviathan, Chapt XIII. Unfortunately, it is not generally “short.”
On Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(4) sanctions:
The great operative principle of Rule 37(a)(4) is that the loser pays. Fee shifting, when the judge must rule on discovery disputes, encourages their voluntary resolution and curtails the ability of litigants to use the legal process to heap detriments on adversaries without regarding to the merits of the claim.
Quoting Rickels v. City of South Bend, Indiana, 33 F.3d 785, 786 (7th Cir. 1994) (Easterbrook, J.) (internal quotes omitted).
On the less-than-civil nature of “modern” litigation:
Unfortunately, what has occurred here thus far is not uncommon, and the often needless disputes arising in discovery are but the current manifestation of the difficulties about which Learned Hand lamented almost three quarters of a century ago. In an address to the Bar Association of the City of New York in 1921, Hand, then a young district judge, spoke about the “atmosphere of contention over trifles, the unwillingness to conceded what ought to be conceded, and to proceed to the things which matter. Courts have fallen out of repute; many of you avoid them whenever you can, and rightly. About trials hang a suspicion of trickery and a sense of a result depending upon cajolery or worse. I wish I could say that it was all unmerited. After now some dozen years of experience I must say that as a litigant I should dread a lawsuit beyond almost anything else short of sickness and death.” Lectures on Legal Topics, Learned Hand, The Deficiencies Of Trials To Reach the Heart of the Matter, 105 (The MacMillan Co. 1926).
On bad blood between litigants:
What Chief Judge Easterbrook recently said in another case seems to apply here: “There is a grudge match.” Redwood v. Dobson, 476, F.3d 462 (7th Cir. 2007). The parties are free to entertain whatever animus they possess towards each other. Judges have no business in trying to regulate thought and emotion. But they do have an obligation to regulate how parties deal with each other and with ensuring that they comply with the discovery provisions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
* For more about this case in the Blog’s archives click here.

Continue Reading Court Waxes Eloquent on Discovery

Trading Techs. Int’l., Inc. v. eSpeed, Inc., No 04 C 5312, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 27, 2007) (Moran, Sen. J.).*
Judge Moran denied defendant eSpeed’s motion to compel production of damages documents from plaintiff Trading Technologies (“TT”). eSpeed sought, among other things, monthly licensing reports, monthly product profitability reports and documents for determining TT’s costs and sales budgets. TT argued that it had already produced the requested information, to the extent that it was kept in the form requested. And to the extent that the information was not kept in the requested form, TT stated that it had provided documents sufficient to determine the requested information. Noting that counsel are officers of the Court, the Court relied upon TT’s representations and denied eSpeed’s motion because TT stated that the documents had been produced.
Trial is set to start in this case the week of September 10. Between now and then expect to see several more opinions in this case and its related cases (there are two weighty summary judgment opinions still in my queue, as well as several other smaller opinions and orders). Additionally, I have some other obligations that week, but am planning to blog some of the trial. Stay tuned.
*You can download this opinion here and you can read much more about this case and related cases in the Blog’s archives.

Continue Reading Court Relies on Parties as Officers of the Court for Discovery Disputes

Trading Techs. Int’l., Inc. v. eSpeed, Inc., No 04 C 5312, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 17, 2007) (Moran, Sen. J.).*
Judge Moran denied plaintiff Trading Technologies’ (“TT”) motion to compel an additional Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6) witness. TT noticed a 30(b)(6) deposition of defendant eSpeed, Inc. (“eSpeed”) identifying twenty four topics, including someone with knowledge of the names of customers or potential customers of eSpeed’s accused products. eSpeed provided a witness on the topic, but he was only able to identify eSpeed’s customers and potential customers, he had no knowledge regarding any demonstrations to those customers or use of the accused products by those customers. TT, therefore, served a second notice, after the close of fact discovery, seeking a witness to testify regarding any demonstrations to or use by eSpeed customers. eSpeed refused to produce a witness in response to the second notice. The Court denied TT’s motion to compel because the original deposition sought only the identity of the customers, so the witness did not need to have any knowledge regarding demonstrations to or use by those customers.
What is most interesting about this opinion, however, is the Court’s statements regarding the fact discovery history of the case. The Court shows some frustration with what appears to have been a very protracted and contentious discovery process:
Both parties in this case have been pushing discovery up to and through the close of discovery, which has been extended time and time again . . . . Enough is enough.
Trial is set to start in this case the week of September 10. Between now and then expect to see several more opinions in this case and its related cases. Additionally, I have some other obligations that week, but am planning to blog some of the trial. Stay tuned.

Continue Reading Court Has Enough of Long Fact Discovery Process

Rosenthal Collins Group, LLC v. Trading Techs. Int’l, Inc., No. 05 C 4088, 2007 WL 1597928 (N.D. Ill. May 16, 2007) (Moran, Sen. J.).
Judge Moran granted declaratory judgment defendant Trading Technologies’ (“TT”) motion to compel documents and things identified by third party declarant Walter Buist during his deposition, despite declaratory judgment plaintiff Rosenthal Collins Group’s (“RCG”) assurances that the documents and things had already been produced. RCG previously filed a motion for summary judgment of invalidity of TT’s patents based upon a declaration by Buist regarding software that he developed, at least partially, more than a year before TT filed its patent applications. In a previous opinion, the Court held that RCG’s motion was “somewhat misleading” and possibly “disingenuous,” but refused to dismiss the case (you can read the Blog’s discussion of that opinion here, as well as more on this case generally in the Blog’s archives).
After RCG filed its motion, TT deposed Buist regarding, among other things, the creation of his declaration and his interactions with RCG’s counsel related thereto. During that deposition, Buist stated, among other things, that various drafts of his declaration were created, that he created a “differences” list and provided it to RCG’s counsel and that he had used various computers during his work related to the case. TT sought all drafts of the declaration, a list of any destroyed drafts, the differences list, any drives or computers used by Buist and all documents reflecting communications between Buist or his associates and RCG and its counsel or associates.
In light of RCG’s statements that it had already produced many of the requested documents and things, the Court ordered RCG to: 1) reproduce all such documents; 2) produce any remaining responsive documents (including the computers requested); and 3) produce documents reflecting relationships between Buist and RCG or its counsel, so long as such documents are not privileged. The Court also required that RCG produce Buist for an additional deposition to answer questions related to the compelled documents, as well as Buist’s relationship with RCG and its counsel, so long as the questioning does not violate Buist’s attorney-client privilege.

Continue Reading Discovery Granted Regarding Drafts of Third Party Declaration

Rembrandt Techs., LP v. Comcast Corp., No. 07 C 1010, 2007 WL 1598003 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 25, 2007) (Moran, J.).
Judge Moran granted defendants’ motion to compel documents from third party Zenith Electronics Corp. (“Zenith”), but restricted access to the documents by plaintiff, Rembrandt Technologies’ (“Rembrandt”) inhouse counsel. In the underlying action, E.D. Texas Case No. 05 C 443, Rembrandt alleged that defendants infringed its patents. Zenith was identified as a leading licensor of Rembrandt’s technology. So, defendants subpoenaed Zenith to determine what Zenith paid for its license. Zenith essentially agreed to produce the documents pursuant to the subpoena, but wanted to restrict access to the documents so that no party’s inhouse counsel received access. Defendants agreed to the restriction, but Rembrandt argued that its chief patent counsel, John Meli, was a chief decisionmaker in the case and, therefore, required access to the documents. The Court acknowledged that Meli was a decisionmaker in the case and noted that the Texas court’s protective order allowed Meli access to highly confidential documents. Therefore, the Court granted Meli access to any license agreements produced by Zenith pursuant to the subpoena. But the Court denied Meli access to any other documents produced by Zenith.

Continue Reading Inhouse Counsel’s Access to Third Party Documents Limited