Plaintiffs Granted Direct Access to Proprietary Database for Metadata and Electronic Evidence
In Advanced Tactical Ordnance Systems, LLC v. Real Action Paintball, Inc., No. 1:12-CV-296 (N.D.In. Feb. 25, 2013), plaintiffs sought an injunction against a business competitor for unlawful use of trademarked information. The plaintiff eDiscovery requests included access to defendant’s entire computer software database. Plaintiffs were seeking information on the invoices contained in the database, and argued that if it had the entire database, it could search for the relevant electronic data itself.
The defendants opposed the full production of the database, claiming it was “at the heart” of its business and its “most important asset” of which is proprietary in nature. Besides information on invoices, the database contained:
- Customer lists
- All orders for its products
- Marketing programs and newsletters
- Customer service support tickets
- Customer vouchers
- Frequently asked questions
- Information about its dealers and special programs made available to them
The court reviewed Federal Rule 34(a) when considering the plaintiffs’ request for the entire database. Particularly, the court focused on the language in the advisory committee notes, which explained, “[t]he addition of testing and sampling to Rule 34(a) with regard to documents and electronically stored information is not meant to create a routine right of direct access to a party’s electronic information system, although such access might be justified in some circumstances.” [Emphasis in opinion.]
The court held that although plaintiffs’ request for the entire database may appear overly intrusive, in reality, the plaintiffs need for the information outweighed the privacy concerns of the defendant. The database information, including the meta data contained within it, was highly relevant to the request for an injunction and for the damages sought. Subject to a protective order, the court granted plaintiffs full access to the entire database.