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Apple Inc., A California Corporation v. Granting Limited Expedited Discovery

May 18, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lucy H. Koh United States District Judge

United States District Court For the Northern District of California


This case came before the Court on May 12, 2011 for a hearing on Plaintiff Apple, Inc.'s motion for expedited discovery. Based on claims of alleged infringement of its trademarks, trade dress, and utility and design patents, Apple seeks an order requiring Samsung to produce certain product samples, marketing materials, documents, and a 30(b)(6) corporate witness on an expedited basis. The Court heard argument on the matter on May 12, 2011, and ordered limited 24 expedited discovery, as detailed below.


On April 15, 2011, Plaintiff Apple, Inc. ("Apple") filed suit against Defendants Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Samsung Electronics America, Inc., and Samsung Telecommunications America, LLC (collectively "Samsung"). In its Complaint, Apple alleges that Samsung's Galaxy cell phones and computer tablets infringe Apple's trade dress, trademarks, and utility and design 2 patents. On April 19, 2011, Apple filed a motion seeking expedited discovery regarding five 3 products that Samsung is allegedly preparing to introduce into the U.S. market: (1) the Galaxy S2 4 cell phone, (2) the Galaxy Tab 8.9 tablet computer, (3) the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer, (4) 5 the Infuse 4G cell phone, and (5) the 4G LTE (or "Droid Charge") cell phone. Based on images 6 and models provided to the public, Apple alleges that these new products will mimic Apple's 7 protected designs in the iPhone and iPad and infringe Apple's intellectual property. Apple claims 8 that expedited discovery will enable it to take early action to stop the allegedly infringing activity 9 before Samsung's new products become established in the marketplace. Apple therefore seeks an 10 order requiring Samsung to produce the following by May 19, 2011: (1) domestic production models of Samsung's five new products, along with commercial packaging and initial release marketing materials; (2) documents relating to any copying of design elements of, or attempts to 13 design around Apple's intellectual property relating to, the iPhone 4, iPad, and iPad 2; and (3) a 14 30(b)(6) corporate witness in the United States who can testify regarding design of the shell and 15 graphical user interface of Samsung's five new products and any copying of, or attempts to design 16 around, the iPhone 4, iPad, and iPad 2. Samsung opposes Apple's request for expedited discovery.

any source" prior to the conference required by Rule 26(f), which must take place at least 21 days 20 before the initial Case Management Conference. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(d), (f). Courts within the Ninth Circuit generally use the "good cause" standard to determine whether to permit discovery 22 prior to a Rule 26(f) conference. See, e.g., Interserve, Inc. v. Fusion Garage PTE, Ltd., No. C 09-23 05812 JW (PVT), 2010 WL 143665, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 7, 2010); Semitool, Inc. v. Tokyo Electron America, Inc., 208 F.R.D. 273, 276 (N.D. Cal. 2002). "Good cause may be found where 25 the need for expedited discovery, in consideration of the administration of justice, outweighs the 26 prejudice to the responding party." Semitool, 208 F.R.D. at 276. In determining whether good 27 cause justifies expedited discovery, courts commonly consider factors including: "(1) whether a 28 preliminary injunction is pending; (2) the breadth of the discovery requests; (3) the purpose for

II.Legal Standard

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(d), a party "may not seek discovery from requesting the expedited discovery; (4) the burden on the defendants to comply with the requests; 2 and (5) how far in advance of the typical discovery process the request was made." American LegalNet, Inc. v. Davis, 673 F. Supp. 2d 1063, 1067 (C.D. Cal. 2009). a-half months before discovery would ordinarily become available in this case.*fn1 As indicated at the motion hearing, the Court agrees that Apple has demonstrated good cause for some, limited expedited discovery. While Apple has not yet filed a motion for preliminary injunction, courts 9 have found that expedited discovery may be justified to allow a plaintiff to determine whether to seek an early injunction. See Interserve, 2010 WL 143665, at *2 ("Expedited discovery will allow


In this case, Apple seeks fairly extensive discovery from Samsung approximately two-and- plaintiff to determine whether to seek an early injunction."). Moreover, "courts have recognized United States District Court For the Northern District of California that good cause is frequently found in cases involving claims of infringement and unfair 13 competition." Semitool, 208 F.R.D. at 276. Here, Apple seeks expedited discovery to prevent 14 alleged infringement of its intellectual property and to forestall allegedly irreparable harm 15 associated with a loss of market share and consumer good will. See Century 21 Real Estate Corp. v. Sanlin, 846 F.2d 1175, 1180-81 (9th Cir. 1988) ("Injunctive relief is the remedy of choice for 17 trademark and unfair competition cases, since there is no adequate remedy at law for the injury caused by a defendant's continuing infringement."); Maxim Integrated Products, Inc. v. Quintana, 654 F. Supp. 2d 1024, 1035 (N.D. Cal. 2009) ("In trademark cases, irreparable harm is typically 20 found in a plaintiff's loss of control over their business reputation, loss of trade and loss of goodwill."). Although the Court expresses no opinion on the merits of Apple's claims, the Court notes that Apple has produced images of Samsung products and other evidence that provide a reasonable basis for Apple's belief that Samsung's new products are designed to mimic Apple's 24 products. In particular, Apple cites to media reports that Samsung "overhaul[ed]" its forthcoming Galaxy Tab 10.1 in response Apple's recently unveiled iPad 2. See Samsung considers Galaxy Tab 10.1 overhaul following iPad 2 unveiling, Boy Genius Report, submitted as Ex. 5 to Decl. of Jason R. Bartlett in Supp. of Pl.'s Mot. to Expedite Discovery ("Bartlett Decl."), ECF No. 11; iPad 2

Bartlett Decl. In these reports, Vice President of Samsung's mobile division Lee Don-Joo is 4 quoted as stating, "We will have to improve the parts [of the Galaxy Tab 10.1] that are inadequate.

Apple made [the iPad 2] very thin." Bartlett Decl. Ex. 5. Apple also provides images of samples 6 of Samsung's new products and media reports suggesting that the design of Samsung's new Galaxy 7

5; Bartlett Decl. Ex. 8-9. This evidence, together with the apparently imminent release of 9 A number of other considerations also support Apple's request. First, the expedited discovery Apple requests is relevant to its claims of infringement. In particular, the design and appearance of Samsung's forthcoming products and packaging are directly relevant to Apple's 13 trademark, trade dress, and design claims. Because these claims are subject to consumer confusion 14 and "ordinary observer" standards, the products themselves and the packaging in which they are 15 sold are likely to be central to any motion for preliminary injunction. See Philip Morris USA Inc. Lanham Act require a showing of a likelihood of consumer confusion, deception, or mistake); Egyptian Goddess, Inc. v. Swisa, Inc., 543 F.3d 665, 678 (Fed. Cir. 2008) (en banc) (holding that 19 design patent infringement claims are subject to a test of "whether the ordinary observer would 20 consider the two designs to be substantially the same"). Second, this case involves sophisticated 21 parties and counsel who have had ongoing negotiations about this dispute for approximately a year. April 20, 2011.*fn2 Finally, expedited discovery would allow the Court to address any request for preliminary injunctive relief at the outset of the case, thereby providing a measure of clarity to the parties early in the proceeding and facilitating effective case management. Each of these factors weighs in favor of Apple's request. See Semitool, 208 F.R.D. at 276-77 (indicating that relevance Sends Galaxy Tab Back to the Drawing Board, NBC Bay Area report, submitted as Ex. 4 to 3 S2 phone is very similar to the design of Apple's iPhone 4. See Pl.'s Mot. to Expedite Discovery at Samsung's new products, supports Apple's request for expedited discovery. v. Liu, 489 F. Supp. 2d 1119, 1122 (C.D. Cal. 2007) (noting that trademark claims under the In addition, Samsung has had notice of Apple's specific requests for expedited discovery since of the discovery requested, sophistication of parties and counsel, prior notice of discovery requests, 2 and facilitation of case management support a request for expedited discovery).

Nonetheless, as discussed at the motion hearing, the Court finds merit in Samsung's concerns about the breadth of Apple's requests and the ...

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