With amendments to the Federal Rules set to go into effect on December 1, the Seventh Circuit Pilot Program on Electronic Discovery is offering a CLE program on the e-discovery implications of the new rules on October 14 at 12pm CT.  Speakers include:

  • Judge Sheila Finnegan;
  • Nan Nolan (former Magistrate Judge and current JAMS mediator);

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

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at noon central, Law.com is hosting an in-depth webinar discussion of the Seventh Circuit’s new Principles Relating to the Discovery of Electronically Stored Information – click here for registration information. The Principles are designed to streamline discovery and resolve e-discovery disputes by, among other things, incentivizing early and informal information exchange on common issues. The Principles also identify formats of e-discovery that are generally not required to be preserved in order to reduce fights and costs. For more on the Principles, click here. In October 2009, the Seventh Circuit initiated Phase One of its E-Discovery Pilot Program across the Seventh Circuit’s district courts, with a special emphasis on the Northern District of Illinois. In Phase One, the Principles are being applied to 80 selected cases during Phase One.
The panelists for the webinar include:
Chief Judge Holderman;
Magistrate Judge Nolan;
Thomas Lidbury, Mayer Brown; and
Alexandra Buck, Senior Counsel and Director of E-Discovery and Records Management at Abbott Laboratories.

Continue Reading CLE: Seventh Circuit E-Discovery Pilot Program Phase One

Donovan v. Quade, No. 05 C 3533, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Oct. 15, 2009) (Nolan, Mag. J.)
Judge Nolan granted in part defendants/counterplaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment in this copyright suit. Initially, the Court deemed admitted all of plaintiff’s properly supported supplemental statements of material fact because defendants failed to factually support their denials of the facts pursuant to Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B). The plaintiff and individual defendant were co-authors of the well-known play Late Night Catechism (“LNC”) and its primary character “Sister” a fictional Roman Catholic nun. The individuals founded defendant QDE in 2000 as a vehicle for producing LNC. The individual defendant also made plays that were derivative works of LNC and licensed them separately from QDE. Plaintiff also made derivative works, but only licensed them through QDE.
False Designation of Origin and Deceptive Trade Practices
The Court granted summary judgment as to plaintiff’s false designation of origin and deceptive trade practice claims because plaintiff did not respond to defendants’ summary judgment arguments as to those claims.
Deprivation of Copyright Revenues
Because the Court held that the parties were not governed by a partnership agreement, copyright law governed any revenues from LNC. The issue, therefore, was whether plaintiff’s plays were derivative of the parties’ joint work LNC. First, the Court held that LNC was a joint work of the parties. The parties’ copyright application identified the parties as joint authors, and plaintiff failed to put forth sufficient evidence to counter the presumption created by the application.
The Court also held that plaintiff’s later plays were derivative of LNC. Defendants put forth evidence that plaintiff’s plays all included the Sister character and, therefore, were based upon and derivative of LNC. Plaintiff’s “answers, conclusory denials” were not sufficient to overcome plaintiff’s evidence. Because the parties were joint authors of LNC and because plaintiff’s subsequent plays involving the Sister character were derivative of LNC, defendant was granted summary judgment regarding the demand for an accounting.

Continue Reading Joint Authors Must Share Profits of Their Derivative Works

Vito & Nick’s, Inc. v. Barraco., No. 05 C 2764, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Oct. 10, 2008) (Nolan, Mag. J.)
Judge Nolan granted defendants’ motion for litigation costs, but denied defendants’ motion for attorney’s fees. Plaintiff sued defendants alleging trademark infringement, Lanham Act unfair competition, Illinois Deceptive Trade Practices and related state law claims based upon a dispute over sibling’s competing use of the name of a family business. After initiation of the suit, the parties engaged in extensive settlement negotiations resulting in a framework for settlement. But plaintiff was unable to come up with funds necessary for the settlement and then lost its counsel. Because plaintiff was unable to find replacement counsel, and because corporations cannot appear pro se, plaintiff’s case was eventually dismissed for want of prosecution.
The Court held that plaintiff’s conduct resulting in dismissal did not constitute bad faith warranting an award for attorney’s fees. Plaintiff actively participated in the case and settlement negotiations, until it was unable to come up with the funds required, and lost its counsel. Furthermore, the Court had not had occasion to review the viability of plaintiff’s claim and, therefore, a bad faith finding could not be based upon the viability of the claims.
The Court did, however, award defendants their costs as prevailing parties pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d)(1), as follows:
Costs of serving the summons and subpoenas;
Court reporter, videographer, and transcript fees (transcripts were limited to $3.30 per page and did include indexes, minuscripts or other attorney convenience features);
Witness fees; and
Copy costs (limited to $.10 – $.20 per page).

Continue Reading Dismissal For Failure To Prosecute: Costs Awarded Not Attorney’s Fees

Miyano Machinery USA, Inc. v. MiyanoHitec Machinery, Inc., No. 08 C 526, 2008 WL 236610 (N.D. Ill. Jun. 6, 2008) (Nolan, Mag. J.).
Judge Nolan granted plaintiff’s motion to quash defendants’ subpoenas of plaintiff’s counsel – who represented: 1) plaintiffs and perhaps individual defendants in plaintiffs’ earlier trademark prosecution; and 2) plaintiffs in this case. The Court denied defendants’ motions to compel production of communications between plaintiffs and plaintiffs’ counsel and to pierce the privilege.
Defendants argued that plaintiffs committed fraud on the PTO, and therefore inequitable conduct, when plaintiffs’ counsel allegedly knowingly submitted false declarations during prosecution of plaintiffs’ trademarks. Defendants based their claims on an allegedly privileged communication between plaintiff and its counsel (Exhibit L) that plaintiffs claimed was inadvertently produced.
The Court held that Exhibit L was inadvertently produced – it was just one document among 22,000 pages and plaintiffs requested its return immediately after discovering its production. Furthermore, Exhibit L was essentially a list of questions from counsel to plaintiffs, by which counsel was making sure he had sufficient information to file the declarations in question – evidence supporting plaintiffs’ defense of defendants’ inequitable conduct claims.
Finally, while the Seventh Circuit had not ruled on the correct test for whether to allow attorney depositions, the Court followed what it held was the prevailing test in the Northern District, as set forth in Shelton v. American Motors Corp., 805 F.2d 1323, 1327 (8th Cir. 1986):
1. No other available means for obtaining the information;
2. Information is relevant and not privileged; and
3. Information is crucial to the case.
Id. Because plaintiffs identified four other individuals allegedly having the information – some of whom had not been deposed – defendants had not met their burden to depose plaintiffs’ counsel.

Continue Reading Subpoena of Plaintiff’s Prosecution/Trial Counsel Denied.

The Northern District has posted the Seventh Circuit’s new proposed pattern jury instructions for patent cases on its website — click here for a copy. The instructions include all of the recent revisions to the patent laws, including KSR and Seagate. The Seventh Circuit requested comments on the instructions be sent to:
Chief Judge Robert L. Miller, Jr.
325 Robert A. Grant Federal Building
204 S. Main St.
South Bend, IN 46601
Comments will be accepted until April 1st. Also, below is my list of IP jury instructions by Northern District judge, I am sure we will start to see some new ones soon in light of the turbulent 18 months patent law has had:

Continue Reading New Patent Pattern Jury Instructions

Judge Nolan compelled defendant to provide complete answers, citing specific individuals, documents and things to plaintiff’s fact-based contention interrogatories.  Plaintiff served defendant with contention interrogatory seeking to learn each basis for each of defendant’s defenses and counterclaims relating to plaintiff’s "ULTRA-LITE" and "Monster Tachometer" marks.  Defendant initially provided broad, non-committal answers and eventually supplemented including general statements directing plaintiff to defendant’s document production without specifying any Bates ranges.Continue Reading Contention Interrogatories Require Complete, Specific Answers By the Close of Discovery

Crafting proposed jury instructions is one of the first steps when preparing for trial.  And one of the first steps in drafting those instructions is looking for pattern or sample instructions that the court has previously used or endorsed.  In order to help speed that process, I am adding a new Blog feature.  I have gathered the jury instructions that each of the Northern District judges identify on their respective  web pages as either form or model instructions.  Most have general civil instructions and a few have specific sample instructions for various types of IP suits.
Continue Reading Northern District of Illinois Jury Instructions