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Jab Distributors, LLC v. London Luxury

October 13, 2010

JAB DISTRIBUTORS, LLC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LONDON LUXURY, LLC, TARGET CORPORATION, AND AMERICAN TEXTILE COMPANY, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve United States District Judge

Hon. Amy J. St. Eve

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

AMY J. ST. EVE, District Court Judge

Before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to compel Defendant London Luxury, L.L.C., to respond to certain of Plaintiff's discovery requests. For the following reasons, the Court grants the motion.

BACKGROUND

On September 18, 2009, JAB Distributors, L.L.C., filed a complaint, alleging that London Luxury, L.L.C., and other named Defendants had infringed Plaintiff's intellectual property, specifically U.S. Patent No. 7,552,489 (the "'489 patent"). (R. 1.) The technology claimed by the relevant patent, which is entitled "Mattress Encasement For Preventing Beg Bug Escapement Via A Zipper Opening," is incorporated within JAB's "PROTECT A BED" product. (Id. at ¶¶ 16, 19.) Plaintiff contends that London Luxury's "ALLERGY LUXE" product line infringes the '489 patent. (Id. at ¶ 21; R. 51 at 7.) Defendants filed answers that raised numerous affirmative defenses and asserted declaratory-judgment counterclaims for non-infringement and invalidity. (R. 31; R. 52; R. 53.)

On May 11, 2010, the Court granted Defendants' motion for a stay pending the USPTO's ex parte reexamination of all issued claims of the '489 patent. (R. 88.) After the PTO issued a Notice of Intent to Issue Ex Parte Reexamination Certificate, which provided that a "Certificate will be issued in view of . . . [t]he examiner's finding that all claims are patentable," (R. 91-3 at 4,) the Court granted Plaintiff's motion to lift the stay on June 29, 2010. (R. 96.)

On August 27, 2010, Plaintiff filed the motion to compel that is presently before the Court. (R. 106.) In that motion, JAB sought to require Defendant London Luxury to produce documents responsive to certain of its document requests and to provide JAB with pertinent information for the purpose of scheduling depositions. (Id.) More specifically, JAB moved to compel London Luxury to produce sales and financial information, in addition to documents relating to London Luxury's relationship with its retailer, Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc., as well as information necessary for the scheduling of certain depositions. (Id.)

On September 23, 2010, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion to compel in part, requiring London Luxury to produce documents relating to its relationship with its dealer and pertaining to mattress-encasement products that are capable of preventing the escapement of bed bugs, and to provide information necessary for the scheduling of depositions. (R. 108.) London Luxury requested leave to file a response to Plaintiff's motion to compel the production of sales and financial information. (Id.) The matter is now fully briefed and ripe for decision by the Court.

LEGAL STANDARD

The federal discovery rules are liberal in order to assist in the preparation for trial and settlement of litigated disputes. See Bond v. Utreras, 585 F.3d 1061, 1075 (7th Cir. 2009); see also Kodish v. Oakbrook Terrace Fire Prot. Dist., 235 F.R.D. 447, 450 (N.D. Ill. 2006) ("[T]he scope of discovery should be broad in order to aid in the search for truth."). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1), "[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense. . . . Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). Meanwhile, the "burden rests upon the objecting party to show why a particular discovery request is improper." Kodish, 235 F.R.D. at 540. In the context of motions to compel, the Seventh Circuit instructs that a "district court may grant or deny the motion in whole or in part, and similar to ruling on a request for a protective order under Rule 26(c), the district court may fashion a ruling appropriate for the circumstances of the case." Gile v. United Air Lines, Inc., 95 F.3d 492, 496 (7th Cir. 1996). As with all discovery matters, district courts have broad discretion in determining motions to compel. See Peals v. Terre Haute Police Dep't, 535 F.3d 621, 629 (7th Cir. 2008); Reynolds v. Jamison, 488 F.3d 756, 761 (7th Cir. 2007).

ANALYSIS

I. The Parties' Respective Positions

London Luxury strenuously opposes Plaintiff's motion to compel the production of documents responsive to document requests numbers 11, 12, 13, 25, and 29. (R. 109-1; R. 106 at 4.) First, London Luxury insists, making such proprietary sales information available to its competitor would result in an unacceptable risk of harm to its business. (R. 109 at 1-5.) Second, it argues that the protective order entered in this case provides inadequate protection against such harm. (Id.) Third, London Luxury contends that Plaintiff is not entitled to pre-lawsuit financial information, since JAB is foreclosed from seeking damages before it marked its products with the patent number (which, London Luxury asserts, did not occur prior to the initiation of the present lawsuit). (Id. ...


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