Court Compels Plaintiffs to Produce Access Database for Forensic Metadata Analysis
In Thorne Research, Inc. et. al. v. Atlantic Pro-Nutrients, Inc., Case No. 13-784 (D. Utah, Mar. 22, 2016), a patent infringement suit involving a nutritional supplement formula, Defendant filed a Motion to Compel, seeking a complete copy of a database Plaintiffs’ inventor Donald Steele used to enter the patented formulas at issue, arguing that it needed the metadata from the database to determine “the legitimacy” of Plaintiffs’ claim that Steele had invented the formula first. Defendant claimed that Plaintiffs had tampered with the database to falsify the invention date, and that a third party had conceived the invention and filed his patent application on the same day as Steele.
Plaintiffs argued that Access databases do not contain metadata and that the database was owned and maintained by a third party that kept other information in the database. Plaintiffs argued that giving Defendant access to the database would also be giving it access to the third party’s proprietary information. Plaintiffs also asserted that they had given Defendant sufficient information and documentation and that there was no evidence of tampering.
The court found that the parties had offered competing affidavits about whether the Access database actually contained metadata. Based upon that and the clear relevance of the information sought, the court held that Defendant could have access to the database to conduct a forensic analysis with respect to whether metadata exists, all within the purview of a protective order containing “an attorneys eyes only” designation.