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Viasat, Inc. v. Space Systems/Loral, Inc.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

July 10, 2013

VIASAT, INC., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
SPACE SYSTEMS/LORAL, INC., Defendant.

ORDER ON DISCOVERY DISPUTES

WILLIAM V. GALLO, Magistrate Judge.

Pending before this Court are four discovery disputes between the parties. The disputes involve: (1) Defendants' request for an order requiring Plaintiffs to supplement their response to Interrogatory Number ("ROG No.") 24; (2) Defendants' request for an order requiring Plaintiffs to comply with a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6) deposition notice[1]; (3) Defendants' request for an order to compel Plaintiffs to produce documents related to Plaintiffs' ViaSat-2 satellite; and (4) Plaintiffs' request for an order to compel Defendants to produce Defense expert witness, Dr. Christopher Jones, for deposition at this time. The Court, having reviewed the parties' Joint Statement, the attached exhibits, the supplemental documents provided upon request, and this Court's previous Orders, issues the rulings below.

I. DEFENDANTS' REQUEST FOR SUPPLEMENTAL RESPONSE TO INTERROGATORY NO. 24

A. BACKGROUND

On September 5, 2012, Plaintiffs responded to Defendants' ROG No. 22 (Set One), which reads,

For each communication by Defendants that you contend constituted a breach of a non-disclosure agreement alleged in the operative Complaint, IDENTIFY (a) the date of such communication; (b) the mode of the communication, i.e., whether by e-mail, letter, in-person meeting, etc.; (c) the person(s) involved in such communication, including but not limited to the speaker, sender, recipient, etc.; (d) the information conveyed in such communication; (e) all facts supporting or relating to your contention that such information had previously been designated confidential by you pursuant to any non-disclosure agreement; (f) all non-disclosure agreements you claim were breached by such communica-tion; and (g) IDENTIFY all DOCUMENTS upon which ViaSat relies to support its answer to this Interrogatory
Defendants also propounded ROG No. 23 (Set Two), which reads,
Identify each occasion on which you designated any information you communicated to Defendants pursuant to a Non-Disclosure Agreement as confidential and/or proprietary, including in your identification a description of the form in which the designation was made, the information that was subject to the designation, the marking on any document indicating the designation, the bates numbers of any such document, the time that you made the designation, and the person(s) to whom you conveyed the designation.

On February 14, 2013, the parties informed the Court of several discovery disputes, and on February 19, 2013, lodged a Joint Statement which addressed the disputes. One dispute concerned Defendants' assertion that Plaintiffs provided insufficient responses to Defendants' ROG Nos. 22 and 23. Specifically, Defendants claimed that Plaintiffs did not fully identify the proprietary information that Defendants allegedly disclosed in violation of Non-Disclosure Agreements ("NDAs"). Instead, Defendants argued, Plaintiffs' responses to ROG Nos. 22 and 23 identified only vague categories of information that Defendants allegedly disclosed.

Plaintiffs claimed that they sufficiently identified the proprietary information that they allege Defendants disclosed. They argued that more than five months after Plaintiffs had responded to ROG No. 22, Defendants sent a letter stating that Plaintiffs needed to supplement their responses to ROG Nos. 22 and 23 in order to comply with California Code of Civil Procedure ("CCCP") 2019.210, which applies to trade secret disputes. Plaintiffs argued that, not only was Defendants' request for supplemental information untimely, but CCCP 2019.210 was not applicable because Plaintiffs do not allege misappropriation of trade secrets under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Further, Plaintiffs argued that they had already effectively complied with the CCCP by identifying nine categories of proprietary information with reasonable particularity in response to the ROGs.

On March 15, 2013, this Court denied Defendants' request for an order requiring Plaintiffs to supplement their ROG responses on the grounds that the dispute was brought to the Court's attention in an untimely manner. (Doc. No. 125 at 10.)

On March 19, 2013, Defendants propounded ROG No. 24 (Set Three) on Plaintiffs, which reads,

For each communication by Defendants that you contend is a basis for the NDA breach(es) that you allege in the operative complaint: (a) describe the specific information that you contend was proprietary to you, was not known publicly, and was disclosed by Defendants, and (b) identify each date upon which you contend you disclosed such specific information to Defendants. "Describe the specific information" means to provide a description of the actual information, idea, or concept that you contend you disclosed to Defendants and Defendants in turn disclosed to others, with particularly (sic) sufficient to understand how the information, idea, or concept is or could be implemented in practice and what portions of the information, idea, or concept are not publicly known.

On April 17, 2013, the Court held a telephonic Discovery Conference with counsel for all parties. During the Conference, Defendants resurrected their argument about supplementing ROG Nos. 22 and 23, demanding additional answers regarding proprietary information, and framing it in terms of trade secret claims asserted against them. On April 19, 2013, the Court issued another Order on Discovery Disputes, again addressing Defendants' request that the Court order Plaintiffs to articulate the contours of their claims related to the NDAs, and supplement their ROG responses. (Doc. No. 146 at 2.) The Court stated in its April 19, 2013, Order,

The Court declined to rule on Defendants' prior trade secret dispute because the dispute was brought to the Court's attention in an untimely manner, contrary to this Court's Chambers Rules. (citations omitted). However, had the Court ruled on the dispute, it would have denied Defendants' request on the basis that Plaintiffs are not alleging theft, or misappropriation, of a trade secret because they actually gave the proprietary information to Defendants pursuant to NDAs. The Court assumes that the NDAs, in conjunction with the Build Contracts, define the universe of the proprietary information that Plaintiffs shared with Defendants. The technology at issue in the NDAs and Build Contracts involve complex and potentially lucrative satellite technology. The necessity for Plaintiffs to identify the information subject to the NDAs and Build Contracts is unnecessary.

(Doc. No. 146 at 5.)

After being served with ROG No. 24, Plaintiffs objected that the ROG is (1) duplicative of ROG Nos. 22 and 23, as to which the Court had previously denied Defen-dants' motion to compel on timeliness grounds; (2) overly broad and unduly burdensome and calls for information not within Plaintiffs' control or within Defendants' control; and (3) a premature contention interrogatory. In response to ROG No. 24, Plaintiffs essentially copied and pasted their response to ROG No. 22.

On April 30, 2013, the parties notified the Court of a discovery dispute involving Defendants' request for a supplemental response to new ROG No. 24, and request to take a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition. On May 3, 2013, counsel for all parties appeared before this Court for a Discovery Conference. Earlier that day, Defendants had filed a Motion to Set Aside Ruling of the Magistrate Judge, which challenged this Court's April 19, 2013, Discovery Order. (Doc. No. 168). The Court elected to withhold argument and ruling on the new discovery issues until the Honorable Marilyn L. Huff, United States District Judge, issued a ruling on Defendants' Motion.

On May 23, 2013, Judge Huff denied Defendants' Motion to Set Aside Ruling. (Doc. No. 199.) On May 29, 2013, this Court Ordered the parties to lodge a Joint Statement ("hereinafter Joint Statement") regarding the pending discovery disputes. (Doc. No. 210.) The parties were to address specifically whether Defendants' request for a supplemental response to ROG No. 24 and request to take a Rule 30(b)(6) ...


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