Trading Techs. Int’l., Inc. v. eSpeed, Inc., No 04 C 5312, 05 C 1079, 05 C 4088, 05 C 4120, 05 C 4811 & 05 C 5164, 2007 WL 704525 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 1, 2007) (Moran, Sen. J.).
Judge Moran granted in part and denied in part plaintiff Trading Technologies’ (“TT”) motion to compel production of defendants’ communications between themselves (more on this case in the Blog’s archives). Defendants asserted claims of attorney-client and work product privileges regarding various communications and information exchanged as part of a joint defense agreement among, at least, the various defendants and DJ-plaintiff (collectively “defendants”) in the patent suits regarding TT’s patents. The Court explained that the joint defense privilege protects communications and exchange of information between parties that have expressly decided to cooperate in a litigation — with or without a written agreement. The Court held that defendants had expressed a sufficient intent to cooperate in their respective litigations against TT and, therefore, held that defendants need not produce communications made in relation to their joint defense. The Court required that defendants produce any written joint defense agreement or, in the absence of a written agreement, the identities of all members of the joint defense. The Court further held that third parties need not be identified to the extent that their identities are protected as work product, but that third parties should be identified if defendants’ communications with them are allegedly protected by attorney-client privilege. The Court also required that defendants produce all prior art in their possession, regardless of how it was located. And finally, the Court noted that “it must rely on the integrity of counsel to determine what is and is not privileged.” As a result, the Court required that defendants produce “any communications not protected by a legitimate privilege . . . .”
You can download the opinion here.

Continue Reading Joint Defense Agreement May Protect Third Party Communications

Murata Mfg. , Ltd. v. Bel Fuse, Inc., No. 03 C 2934, 2007 WL 781252 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 8, 2007) (Cole, Mag. J.).

Judge Cole held that plaintiff’s inequitable conduct defense did not waive its privilege and, therefore, denied defendant’s motion to compel privileged documents.  Defendant asserted that plaintiff engaged in inequitable conduct by failing to disclose an allegedly material piece of prior art during prosecution of the patent-in-suit.  Defendant’s defense was essentially that their counsel and inventors fully understood their disclosure obligations and chose not to disclose the alleged prior art because  it was not material or even similar to the patent-in-suit.  Defendant argued that plaintiff waived its privilege when its 30(b)(6) deponent testified that:  1) he had been told that plaintiff’s in-house counsel instructed its prosecuting attorneys to disclose all relevant prior art to the PTO; and 2) that he was confident that the inventors understood their duties of disclosure based upon their past experience as patentees and the fact that they had each had several conversations with plaintiff’s prosecution counsel.  But the Court held that disclosure of the occurrence of these conversations, without disclosing any of the contents did not act as waiver.   The Court noted that if disclosure of the existence of these conversations without elaboration constituted wavier, then the exchange of privilege logs would also constitute waiver.Continue Reading Inequitable Conduct Defense Does Not Waive Privilege

Rowe Int’l. Corp. v. Ecast, Inc., __ F. Supp.2d __, 2007 WL 831772 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 19, 2007) (Kennelly, J.).

Judge Kennelly held that plaintiff Arachnid waived its privilege as to a limited scope of information and held that Arachnid’s related uses of the information did not rise to the level of the crime-fraud exception, even if they may have been inequitable conduct.  Arachnid filed a motion seeking the return of three inadvertently produced, privileged "patent reports."  Defendants filed a cross-motion to compel production of privileged materials arguing that Arachnid waived the privilege as to the three documents and that the crime-fraud exception destroyed the privilege to the extent it was not waived.  The Court agreed that the patent reports were inadvertently produced, but still held the privilege was waived on a limited scope of information.  In 1999, a former Arachnid employee testified that he learned from Arachnid’s attorneys that "the only way we would receive [one of] the patent[s-in-suit] was if we included that information."  While a former employee cannot waive the privilege, Arachnid’s attorneys attended the deposition in question and failed to object to the question or the answer.  Additionally, Arachnid later turned the transcript over to the PTO during prosecution of a subsequent application and to defendants during production in the instant case.  These actions combined to waive the privilege as to the specific information discussed by the ex-employee, the inclusion of figure 2 in the patent.Continue Reading Failure to Object at a Deposition Waives Privilege

Wunderlich-Malec Sys., Inc. v. Eisenmann Corp., No. 05 C 04343, 2006 WL 3370700 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 17, 2006) (Ashman, Mag. J.).

Magistrate Judge Ashman granted plaintiff’s motion to compel certain documents and held that defendant waived privilege as to certain documents it produced despite claiming attorney-client and work product privileges.  Defendant produced for inspection twenty two binders of documents, including four binders which defendant’s counsel had internally identified as privileged and did not intend to produce for inspection.  About six weeks after the inspection, defendant realized that it had provided certain of these documents to plaintiff and sought the return of seventeen pages from the four binders.  Then, over the next several weeks, defendant sought the return of the remainder of the produced documents from the four binders claiming that they contained privileged information or trade secrets unrelated to the case.  Plaintiff retained the bulk of the documents arguing that any privilege that existed had been waived by disclosure of the documents.  Defendant argued that the documents were disclosed inadvertently and should be returned.Continue Reading Privilege Logs Bolster Inadvertent Production Arguments

Abbott Labs. V. Andrx Pharm., Inc., No. 05 C 1490, 2006 WL 2092377 (N.D. Ill. July 25, 2006) (Brown, Mag. J.).

Using nonprivileged documents that are connected to privileged documents, such as fax coversheets or cover emails used to send a privileged report, to question a witness regarding the related privileged documents can waive the privilege.  Applying Seventh Circuit law (the privilege questions at issue are unrelated to substantive patent law, so Federal Circuit law does not apply), the Court held that plaintiff Abbott waived privilege with respect to an entire document where:  1) Abbott produced a fax coversheet from a document over which it had claimed attorney-client and work product privilege; and 2) used that cover sheet in a line of questioning regarding the underlying document, despite Abbott’s decision not to produce the underlying document.Continue Reading Be Careful With Privileged Documents

Beck Sys., Inc. v. ManageSoft Corp., No. 05 C 2036, 2006 WL 2037356 (N.D. Ill. July 14, 2006) (Schenkier, Mag. J.).

In considering the scope of attorney-client privilege and work product waivers stemming from defendant ManageSoft’s reliance on an opinion of counsel, Magistrate Judge Schenkier undertook a detailed analysis of the Federal Circuit’s recent In re Echostar Communications, 448 F.3d 1294 (Fed. Cir. 2006), decision and how it changes the Northern District of Illinois’ previous ruling on the issue in Beneficial Franchise Co., Inc. v. Bank One N.A., 205 F.R.D. 212 (N.D. Ill. 2001).Continue Reading Scope of Waiver of Attorney-Client Privilege and Work Product Protection