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Court Weighs Proportionality in Apple v. Samsung eDiscovery Disputes

Posted on September 9th, 2013

Electronic discovery disputes continue in the patent lawsuit Apple v. Samsung, 2013 WL 442365412 (N.D.Cal. August 14, 2013). The last discovery order concerning ESI was in April 2013, when the court ordered Apple to produce certain electronic data to Samsung to calculate damages. Apple did produce the financial data, but not in the manner Samsung sought.

Samsung wanted data specific to the U.S., but Apple produced the data on a worldwide level. Secondly, Apple produced the data on the “product line level” (such as iPhones, iPads) while Samsung sought the information on a “model level” (such as iPhone4S, iPhone 5, etc.) Apple insisted it did not keep such records in such a format in the ordinary course of business, although Samsung was able to offer evidence to the contrary.

In ruling on the dispute, it was noted that courts “regularly require parties to produce reports from dynamic databases.” The court declared that this technical burden would not be unreasonable. Although Apple contended this would take “several months of coordinated effort,” the court was “generally dubious of such generalized claims of burden in complying with discovery obligations.”

If one was to stop reading the case here, you might think the court would order Apple to comply with Samsung’s formatting request…but wait, there’s more.

A more persuasive argument in favor of Apple was that the court is required to limit discovery if “the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweigh its likely benefits.” Calling proportionality the “all-to-often [sic] ignored discovery principle,” the court held Samsung’s expert did not really need the documents in the requested format to calculate damages, and it was not worth Apple taking such great lengths to produce (even though the court seemed to believe Apple was over-estimating the burden.)

The final caveat in agreeing that proportionality dictates that Samsung’s request be denied? The court held that Apple be estopped from challenging Samsung’s experts on a ground that would be rebutted by reference to any financial data requested but not received.

ILS – Plaintiff Electronic Discovery Experts

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