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MD Helicopters, Inc. v. Aerometals, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 15, 2017

MD HELICOPTERS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
AEROMETALS, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER

          ALLISON CLAIRE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         On April 19, 2017, the court heard oral argument on plaintiff MD Helicopters, Inc.'s (“MD Helicopters”) motions to compel. William Janicki and William Black appeared for plaintiff and Merri Baldwin and Joshua Deitz appeared on behalf of defendant Aerom s, Inc. (“Aerom s”). After carefully considering the parties' papers and arguments, MD Helicopters' motions to compel are GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART as follows.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The court's prior order on plaintiff's motion for a protective order provides the relevant factual background:

MD Helicopters manufactures helicopters for the civilian and U.S. military markets. It also makes replacement parts for its civilian helicopters. The U.S. is permitted to use MD Helicopters' intellectual property “to obtain spare and replacement parts for its military helicopters from third party suppliers.” Complaint (ECF No. 1) at 5 ¶ 15. However, “[u]se of MDHI's proprietary and copyright protected [Original Equipment Manufacturer (“OEM”)] drawings … may only be used by third party suppliers pursuant to the U.S. government license for the production of parts for the military Model 369 (OH-6A) helicopters and its derivatives, and not for the MD 500 Series civilian market.”
Defendant Aerom s “supplies aftermarket spare and replacement parts for the military and civilian versions of the MD 500 Series helicopters.” Complaint at 8 ¶ 30. As such, it has access to MD Helicopters' intellectual property, but is permitted to use it only for making spare parts for military helicopters. According to the complaint, Aerom s used this information to compete unfairly against MD Helicopters in the market for civilian spare and replacement parts for helicopters. Plaintiff MD Helicopters sues for copyright infringement and for violations of federal and state unfair competition laws.

ECF No. 32 at 1-2.

         II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed its original complaint on September 21, 2016. On October 24, 2016, defendant filed a motion to dismiss that is currently under submission before Judge Nunley. ECF No. 5. A protective order is in place to govern the confidentiality of certain materials to be exchanged during discovery. ECF Nos. 32, 34. A joint status report has been filed (ECF No. 22) but no scheduling order has been issued in this case. Due to the pendency of defendant's motion to dismiss, an answer has not been filed.

         Plaintiff filed the instant motions to compel on March 21, 2017 and March 28, 2017. ECF Nos. 35, 39. The Joint Statements for both motions were filed on April 12, 2017. ECF Nos. 45, 46. Plaintiff also filed a notice of request to seal documents pursuant to Local Rule 141 in support of its March 21st motion to compel. ECF No. 40. After the hearing, defendant filed a request to seal documents it had electronically filed on the case docket. ECF No. 49. See also ECF No. 48.

         III. THE MOTIONS TO COMPEL

         A. Meet and Confer

         The parties met and conferred and did not reach agreement.

         B. First Set of Interrogatories

         Defendant served responses to plaintiff's first set of interrogatories by first class mail on February 22, 2017. ECF No. 46 at 2. Plaintiff received the responses on February 27, 2017. Id. On March 1, 2017, plaintiff emailed a letter to defendant detailing its objections to defendant's responses, requesting further responses, and indicating that a motion to compel would be filed. Id. On March 9, 2017, a meet and confer telephone conference took place to discuss defendant's responses. Id. The parties agreed defendant would provide a written response to plaintiff's March 1 letter. Id. A subsequent telephone conference took place on March 20, 2017 to discuss remaining disagreements. Defendant agreed to produce supplemental interrogatory responses and consider plaintiff's objections. Id. During the call, plaintiff's counsel stated he would file a motion to compel regarding defendant's responses. Id. at 1-2. On March 21, 2017, plaintiff filed this motion. Id. at 2.

         On March 28, 2017, plaintiff sent another letter to defendant stating defendant had failed to preserve their confidentiality designations within 21 days of plaintiff's challenge and as a result they had been waived. Id. Plaintiff further stated that supplemental responses still had not been received. Id. On March 30, 2017, defendant responded that it was preparing supplemental responses and that plaintiff's demand regarding the confidential designations should be decided by the court. Id. On April 10, 2017, the parties had a meet and confer telephone conference. That same day defendant provided supplemental responses. Id. Defendant expected a subsequent conference would take place on April 11, 2017 in order to narrow the discovery issues in dispute. Id. Plaintiff's counsel “did not make himself available” for the meeting and informed defendant he was having difficulty reviewing the supplemental responses. Id. The parties could not resolve their disputes.

         Plaintiff requests that the court compel the defendant to respond fully and completely to the following interrogatories:

INTERROGATORY NO. 1: IDENTIFY each "Installations Instructions" prepared by You or on Your behalf relating to MD 500 helicopter parts that incorporates, displays, depicts, or shows a diagram, figure, image, drawing, or excerpt taking from any MDHI TECHNICAL MANUAL. See Ex. A, example Installation Instructions.
INTERROGATORY NO. 2: IDENTIFY each “Instructions for Continued Airworthiness" prepared by YOU or on YOUR behalf relating to MD 500 helicopter parts that incorporates, displays, depicts, or shows a diagram, figure, image, drawing, or excerpt taking from any MDHI TECHNICAL MANUAL. See Ex. B, example Continued Airworthiness Instructions.
INTERROGATORY NO. 3: IDENTIFY each "Service Bulletin" prepared by YOU or on YOUR behalf relating to MD 500 helicopter parts that incorporates, displays, depicts, or shows a diagram, figure, image, drawing, or excerpt taken from any MDHI TECHNICAL MANUAL. See Ex. C, example Service Bulletin.
INTERROGATORY NO. 4:IDENTIFY each DOCUMENT not already IDENTIFIED that was prepared by YOU or on YOUR behalf relating to MD 500 helicopter parts that incorporates, displays, depicts, or shows a diagram, figure, image, drawing, or excerpt taken from any MDHI TECHNICAL MANUAL.
INTERROGATORY NO. 5: For each DOCUMENT IDENTIFIED in response to Interrogatories 1, 2, 3 and 4, fully describe the source of each diagram, figure, image, drawing or excerpt taken from any MDHI TECHNICAL MANUAL including the source DOCUMENT title vision, date, page number and figure number (if applicable.)
INTERROGATORY NO. 6: For each DOCUMENT IDENTIFIED in response to interrogatories 1, 2, 3 and 4, fully describe the process YOU used to incorporate, display, depict, or show each diagram, figure, image, drawing or excerpt taken from any MDHI TECHNICAL MANUAL into the subject DOCUMENT including the name of the individual performing the process, the individual's supervisor, the method used to perform the process computer program used, the computer hardware used, the data storage location, and any alteration, addition, or modification made to the diagram, figure, drawing or excerpt.
INTERROGATORY NO. 7: IDENTIFY each MDHI Original Equipment Manufacturer ("OEM") drawing for MD 500 helicopter parts that has ever been in YOUR possession custody or control, as referenced by Mr. Rex Kamphefner in paragraph 2 of Exhibit D, and state the source from where YOU obtained each drawing.
INTERROGATORY NO. 8:
IDENTIFY each DOCUMENT prepared by YOU or anyone acting on YOUR behalf that is derivative work, as defined by 17 U.S.C. §101, of an MDHI Original Equipment Manufacturer (“OEM”) drawing for MD 500 helicopter parts.

ECF No. 46 at 13-47.

         C. First Set of Request for Production of Documents

         On March 6, 2017, defendant served written responses to plaintiff's first set of request for production of documents. ECF No. 45 at 2. Plaintiff received the responses on March 9, 2017. Id. On March 10, 2017, defendant produced a limited set of documents to one of plaintiff's request. Id. On March 20, 2017, a meet and confer telephone conference took place to discuss defendant's document production. Id. Defendant agreed to produce additional responsive documents. Id. On March 21, 2017, plaintiff emailed a letter to defendant objecting to defendant's responses. Id. On March 28, 2017, plaintiff requested a meet and confer telephone conference to discuss defendant's responses and document production. Plaintiff also informed defendant it would be filing a motion to compel. This motion was filed the same day. On April 4, 2017, plaintiff sent defendant an email requesting the parties meet and confer prior to the hearing for this motion. Id. On April 10, 2017, the parties met and conferred to discuss the remaining disagreements. Id. That same day, defendant produced supplemental responses and produced some responsive documents. Similar to the other motion to compel before the court, defendant expected a subsequent meet and confer would take place on April 11, 2017 in order to narrow the discovery issues in dispute. Id. at 2-3. The parties could not resolve their disputes.

         Plaintiff requests that the court compel defendant to supply responsive documents to the following requests for production:

REQUEST NO. 1: All DOCUMENTS identified by YOU in response to MDHI's Interrogatories to Defendant Aerom s Inc., Set One, Nos. 1 to 8.
REQUEST NO. 2: All versions of CSP-H-2 MDHI Model Helicopters Model 369H Basic Handbook of Maintenance Instructions.
REQUEST NO.3: All versions of CSP-H-3, MDHI Model Helicopters Model 369H Appendix A Optional Equipment Manual Handbook of Maintenance Instructions.
REQUEST NO. 4: All versions of CSP-H-4, MDHI Model Helicopters Model 369H Appendix B Airworthiness Limitations, Overhaul and Replacement Schedules, Periodic Inspections, Weight and Balance Procedures.
REQUEST NO. 5: All versions of CSP-H-5, MDHI Model Helicopters Model 369H Appendix C Component Overhaul Manual.
REQUEST NO. 6: All versions of CSP-H-7, MDHI Model Helicopters Model 369H/HS/HM/HE Illustrated Parts Catalog.
REQUEST NO. 7: All versions of CSP-HMI-2 MDHI Model Helicopters Models 369D/E/FF - 500/600N Basic Handbook of Maintenance Instructions.
REQUEST NO. 8: All versions of CSP-HMI-3 MDHI Model Helicopters Models 369D/E/FF 500/600N Basic Handbook of Maintenance Instructions - Instruments - ...

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