Patent Lawsuit Against Google Kicks Off with eDiscovery Dispute

18 Oct 2013

In a discovery order issued in the case Unwired Planet, LLC v. Google Inc., Case No. 3:12-CV-0504-MMD(VPC), the court considered one issue regarding Google’s technical document production. Google had produced 280,000 pages of electronic data, and plaintiff alleged the metadata showed four custodians, none of which were actual people. (The four custodians were ‘Google,’ a blank field, ‘C2DM/GCM,’ and ‘Admob.’) Now, as Unwired had subpoenaed four actual, human custodians (employees of Google), it argued that Google had not produced a single document from any of these custodians. Unwired contented that Google had an obligation to produce documents for these witness prior to their depositions. Unwired requested the court order Google to collect and produce such data at least two weeks prior to the deposition, and to produce relevant documents on a rolling basis, not waiting for the deadline for substantial completion.

The court denied the requests and cited Fed. Rule. Civ. Pro. 30. This rule governs procedures for deposition of both parties and non-parties. Notices of depositions must specify the areas of inquiry with reasonable specificity. Rule 30 also allows organizations to produce any employee with knowledge of area of inquiry who are not officers, directors or managing agents (they could simply be records custodians), but mere notice of deposition is insufficient for such witnesses. The party seeking the information should also issue subpoenas for records custodians.

AS the court did not have the deposition notices before it, the court was unsure whether the custodians noticed for deposition were “custodians of records,” “officer, director or managing agents,” or Google employees as witnesses. Nonetheless, the court denied the request to order Google to produce data prior to these depositions unless Unwired has fully complied with Rule 30.

Finally, the court noted that this litigation is expected to produce substantial discovery, and implored the parties to meet and confer to establish deposition protocols for the case.

ILS – Plaintiff Electronic Discovery Experts