Flatworld Interactives LLC v. Apple Inc.

Filing 260

ORDER by Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte granting in part and denying in part 227 Motion to Compel (lrc, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 12/2/2013)

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1 2 3 4 5 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 6 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 7 8 FLATWORLD INTERACTIVES, Plaintiff, 9 United States District Court For the Northern District of California ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT’S FIRST MOTION TO COMPEL AND GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT’S SECOND MOTION TO COMPEL v. 10 11 No. C -12-01956 WHO (EDL) APPLE INC., Defendant. 12 / 13 On November 26, 2013, the Court held a hearing on Defendant’s First and Second Motions 14 15 to Compel. For the reasons stated at the hearing and in this Order, Defendant’s First Motion to 16 Compel is granted in part and denied in part, and Defendant’s Second Motion to Compel is granted 17 in part and denied in part. 18 1. Plaintiff asserted the common interest privilege with respect to communications with third 19 party Acacia. The common interest doctrine is “an extension of the attorney client 20 privilege.” See Waller v. Financial Corp. of America, 828 F.2d 579, 583 n. 7 (9th Cir.1987). 21 “It serves to protect the confidentiality of communications passing from one party to the 22 attorney for another party where a joint defense effort or strategy has been decided upon and 23 undertaken by the parties and their respective counsel. Only those communications made in 24 the course of an ongoing common enterprise and intended to further the enterprise are 25 protected. ‘The need to protect the free flow of information from client to attorney logically 26 exists whenever multiple clients share a common interest about a legal matter,’ and it is 27 therefore unnecessary that there be actual litigation in progress for the common interest rule 28 of the attorney-client privilege to apply.” U.S. v. Schwimmer, 892 F.2d 237, 243–44 (2nd Cir.1989) (citations omitted). The common interest doctrine, and the similar joint defense doctrine, are “not privileges in and of themselves. Rather, they constitute exceptions to the 2 rule on waiver where communications are disclosed to third parties.” Nidec Corp. v. Victor 3 Co. of Japan, 249 F.R.D. 575, 578 (N.D. Cal. 2007). 4 Here, Plaintiff has not shown that Plaintiff and Acacia shared a common interest. Instead, 5 Plaintiff and Acacia engaged in arm’s length negotiations regarding a potential license or 6 sale of the patent-in-suit, and no agreement was reached. See Katz v. AT&T Corp., 191 7 F.R.D. 433, 438 (E.D. Pa. 2000) (finding that parties to negotiations about a license did not 8 have a common interest in part because there was no final agreement); see also, e.g., Def.’s 9 Ex. 25 (Acacia’s proposal for a relationship); Ex. 26 (Plaintiff’s counter-proposal); Ex. 27 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 1 (Acacia’s rejection of Plaintiff’s proposal). Further, there has been no showing that there 11 was any agreement, such as a non-disclosure agreement, to keep the communications 12 confidential. Therefore, there was no common interest and Defendant’s First Motion to 13 Compel the Acacia documents is granted. Plaintiff shall produce the Acacia documents no 14 later than December 12, 2013. 15 2. Third party Rembrandt asserted work product protection over communications with Plaintiff. 16 Defendant argues that the work product protection does not apply and that therefore, the 17 Court should order Rembrandt to produce those documents. Rembrandt is not a party to this 18 case and has not appeared before the Court on this motion. Therefore, the Court declines to 19 issue an advisory opinion about the Rembrandt documents and denies Defendant’s First 20 Motion to Compel as to those documents. 21 3. With respect to the other issues raised in Defendant’s First Motion to Compel, as stated at the 22 hearing, no later than December 3, 2013, Plaintiff may amend its privilege log to add the 23 attorney-client privilege to communications for which Plaintiff currently claims only spousal 24 privilege, but only if Plaintiff can assert the attorney-client privilege in good faith. No later 25 than December 4, 2013, Plaintiff may submit seven documents and Defendant may submit 26 ten documents for the Court’s in camera review. 27 28 4. Defendants Second Motion to Compel documents and supplemental interrogatory responses regarding the offer of Jennifer McAleese, one of Plaintiff’s principals, to purchase a 10% 2 1 interest in royalties from the patent-in-suit from its patent prosecutor, Gordon Nelson, is 2 granted. Plaintiff shall produce these documents no later than December 12, 2013. 3 5. Defendant’s Second Motion to Compel documents and interrogatory responses relating to the 4 source for payments of fees to the Patent and Trademark Office made by Plaintiff and its 5 principals is denied without prejudice. 6 IT IS SO ORDERED. 7 8 Dated: December 2, 2013 9 ELIZABETH D. LAPORTE United States Magistrate Judge United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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