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Fitness Anywhere LLC v. Woss Enterprises LLC

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 11, 2015

FITNESS ANYWHERE LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
WOSS ENTERPRISES LLC, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SANCTIONS Re: Dkt. No. 53

HOWARD R. LLOYD, Magistrate Judge

Fitness Anywhere LLC sues WOSS Enterprises LLC for patent infringement, federal trademark infringement, federal unfair competition, state unfair competition, and tortious interference with prospective economic relationships. Plaintiff moves for an order granting it monetary sanctions. Dkt. No. 53. Defendant filed an opposition, and Plaintiff filed a reply. Dkt. Nos. 68, 69. The motion is deemed suitable for determination without oral argument. The June 16, 2015 hearing is vacated. Civ. L.R. 7-1(b). Based on the moving and responding papers, the Court grants the motion.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed suit in April 2014. Dkt. No. 1. The initial case management conference was held on October 2, 2014, and Plaintiff served its infringement contentions on Defendant on October 16, 2014. Dkt. No. 36; Villeneuve Decl., Exh. A. In its infringement contentions, Plaintiff alleged that eight WOSS products infringe three of its patents. Villeneuve Decl., Exh. A. The patents in suit are U.S. Patent Nos. 7, 044, 896; 7, 806, 814; and 8, 043, 197. Id. The eight accused instrumentalities are: (1) 3000 Equalizer; (2) 3000 Stable; (3) Military Gym Style; (4) Military 1 in Trainer; (5) Military 11/2 in Trainer; (6) SST Suspension Trainer; (7) Titan 11/2 in Wide Strap; and (8) WOSS XT (collectively, "Accused Instrumentalities").

The Accused Instrumentalities are fitness equipment with "foot loops, " in which the user places his or her foot while performing various exercises. In June 2014, Defendant redesigned the "foot loops" of each of the Accused Instrumentalities. Defendant disclosed this redesign when it issued its Responses to Defendant's First Set of Interrogatories on March 9, 2015. Id. ΒΆ 6, Exh. 2.

After learning of the redesign, Plaintiff ordered, received, and examined one of the redesigned products. Plaintiff filed a motion to supplement its infringement contentions, which was granted. Dkt. Nos. 50, 70.

Between June 2014 and March 2015, Plaintiff prepared its infringement contentions and the parties participated in the claim construction process. This included the exchange of proposed terms for construction per Patent L.R. 4-1, the exchange of preliminary claim constructions and extrinsic evidence per Patent L.R. 4-2, and the preparation and submission of the joint claim construction and prehearing statement per Patent L.R. 4-3.

Plaintiff now moves for an order granting it monetary sanctions. Dkt. No. 53. Plaintiff requests that the court order Defendant and its counsel to reimburse Plaintiff for the fees associated with: (1) preparing and briefing its motion for leave to amend infringement contentions; (2) preparing amended infringement contentions; (3) participating in any necessary claim construction proceedings related to contested claim terms that have become material as a result of the change in the Accused Instrumentalities after June 2014; (4) and preparing and briefing the motion for sanctions.[1]

LEGAL STANDARD

Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2), "[i]f a party or a party's officer, director, or managing agent-or a witness designated under Rule 30(b)(6) or 31(a)(4)-fails to obey an order to provide or permit discovery, including an order under Rule 26(f), 35, or 37(a), the court where the action is pending may issue further just orders." This includes the authority to order "the disobedient party, the attorney advising that party, or both to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney's fees, caused by the failure, unless the failure was substantially justified or other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust." Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2)(C).

Moreover, Civ. L.R. 1-4 provides: "Failure by counsel or a party to comply with any duly promulgated local rule or any Federal Rule may be a ground for imposition of any authorized sanction."

Finally, "[c]ourts are invested with inherent powers that are governed not by rule or statute but by the control necessarily vested in courts to manage their own affairs so as to achieve the orderly and expeditious disposition of cases. [The Ninth Circuit] has recognized as part of a district court's inherent powers the broad discretion to make discovery and evidentiary rulings conducive to the conduct of a fair and orderly trial." Unigard Sec. Ins. Co. v. Lakewood Eng'g & Mfg. Corp., 982 F.2d 363, 368 (9th Cir. 1992) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

DISCUSSION

Defendant had an obligation to promptly disclose the redesign. "Except as exempted by Rule 26(a)(1)(B) or as otherwise stipulated or ordered by the court, a party must, without awaiting a discovery request, provide to the other parties:... (ii) a copy-or a description by category and location-of all documents, electronically stored information, and tangible things that the disclosing party has in its possession, custody, or control and may use to support its claims or defenses, unless the use would be solely for impeachment." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a). "Mutual knowledge of all the relevant facts gathered by both parties is essential to proper litigation.'" United States v. Johnson Controls, Inc., No. SACV 03-0028 DOC (ANX), 2008 WL 4601430, at *2 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 15, 2008) (quoting Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 506-507 (1947)). The federal rules ...


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