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Intellicheck Mobilisa, Inc v. Honeywell International Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

September 21, 2017





         Before the court are (1) Plaintiff Intellicheck Mobilisa, Inc.'s ("Intellicheck") motion to compel production of documents (MTC (Dkt. #59)); and (2) Defendant Honeywell International Inc.'s ("Honeywell") second motion for a protective order (2d MFPO (Dkt. # 66)). Specifically, Intellicheck seeks the production of documents responsive to its First Requests for Production of Documents ("RFP") (MTC at 1), while Honeywell seeks to prevent Intellicheck from obtaining discovery at this time (2d MFPO at 1). The court has considered both motions, all submissions filed in support of and in opposition to the motions, the balance of the record, and the relevant law. Neither party has requested oral argument. Being fully advised, the court DENIES both motions.


         This is a patent infringement case that has been ongoing since March of 2016, and yet remains at the pleading stage. (See Compl. (Dkt. # 1) at 1.) Intellicheck commenced this action on March 7, 2016 (see id.), and Honeywell moved to partially dismiss the complaint on June 2, 2016 (MTD (Dkt. # 25)). In response, on June 20, 2016, Intellicheck filed an amended complaint (Am. Compl. (Dkt. # 30) at 1), which rendered Honeywell's motion to dismiss moot (6/28/16 Order (Dkt. # 34) at 1-2). Honeywell then filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint on July 8, 2016. (2d MTD (Dkt. # 37).)

         Around the same time, Intellicheck initiated discovery. In July of 2016, Intellicheck sent Honeywell 79 requests for admissions ("RFAs") (RFA (Dkt. # 65-1) at 4-8), and followed up a week later with 51 requests for production of documents (RFP (Dkt. #60-1) at 6-12). Intellicheck sought copies of "any and all product manuals, specifications, schematics, manuals, drawings, guides, instructions and other documents describing the functionality" of various Honeywell products. (Id. at 6.) It also demanded any document identified in Honeywell's initial disclosure or in Honeywell's responses to the RFAs (id. at 7); physical copies of the accused products and accompanying software plug-ins, packaging, instructions, guides or labels (id. at 7-8); all documents and communications relating to the predecessor of Intellicheck (id. at 8); all documents related to the patents-in-suit (id. at 8-9); and all documents relating to opinions of counsel about the patents-in-suit (id. at 9). Intellicheck additionally sought all documents related to infringement, including information regarding prior art, the obviousness of any subject matter claimed, why the accused product may or may not infringe, Honeywell's awareness of the patents, any attempts to design or modify the products, and other marketing and sales information. (Id. at 9-11.) Lastly, Intellicheck requested any and all documents provided by certain individuals to Honeywell in reference to Intellicheck or the patents at issue. (Id. at 11-12.)

         These actions prompted Honeywell to file its first motion for a protective order, asserting that Intellicheck's attempt to obtain discovery constituted a "fishing expedition" inconsistent with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 1 and 11. (MFPO (Dkt. # 39) at 1.) Honeywell also served Intellicheck with numerous general and specific objections to the RFPs in August of 2016. (See generally Resp. to RFP (Dkt. # 65-3).) For instance, Honeywell objected generally to the RFPs "to the extent they seek production of electronically stored information and trade secret, proprietary business information or other confidential information" (id. at 2) and "to the extent they call for the production of documents and information not in Honeywell's care, custody or control" (id. at 3). Honeywell further objected specifically to each RFP, including objections that individual requests were "overly broad, " "unduly burdensome, " "contrary to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1)'s proportionality limitations, " "call[ing] for the production of information protected from disclosure by the attorney-client privilege, " or "calling for the production of information that is available in the public domain." (E.g., Id. at 13-14.)

         While both Honeywell's motion to dismiss and motion for a protective order were pending, the parties jointly moved to stay proceedings and extend the case schedule so that they could explore settlement options. (Stip. Mot. (Dkt. # 48) at 1-2.) The court extended the case deadlines but declined to stay the case, and accordingly denied Honeywell's two pending motions as moot, without prejudice to renewing them at a later date. (10/28/16 Order (Dkt. # 49) at 1-2.)

         Negotiations between the two parties broke down in May of 2017, and Intellicheck requested leave to file a second amended complaint.[1] (MTA (Dkt. # 57).) Around the same time, Intellicheck requested that Honeywell produce documents responsive to the RFPs that were previously served. (Davis Decl. (Dkt. # 60) ¶ 5.) However, Honeywell produced no documents. (Id. ¶ 6.) The parties, in compliance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a) and Local Civil Rule 37(a)(1), held a conference on July 24, 2017, to discuss this matter. (Id. ¶ 7); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(1); Local Rules W.D. Wash. LCR 37(a)(1). They were unable to come to an agreement regarding any of the 51 RFPs: Honeywell informed Intellicheck that it would not be producing the requested documents and that it would instead be renewing its motion for a protective order. (Davis Decl. ¶ 7.)

         A few days later, Intellicheck filed its motion to compel production of documents. (MTC at 1.) Honeywell then filed its second motion for a protective order. (2d MFPO at 1.) The court considers each motion in turn.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Intellicheck's Motion to Compel

         Intellicheck asserts that it seeks documents that are relevant to the parties' claims and defenses, proportional to the needs of the case, and are neither privileged nor subject to the work product immunity. (MTC at 2-3.) Moreover, it argues that discovery should not be stayed simply because Honeywell may be filing a motion to dismiss in the future, as a stay of discovery pending a motion to dismiss should not be entered if the motion would not be dispositive of the entire case. (Id. at 3.)

         A party may move to compel discovery if the movant has in good faith conferred with the party opposing discovery to obtain the requested discovery without the court's intervention. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(1). The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating that the information it seeks is relevant and that the responding party's objections lack merit. See Blues tone Innovations LLC v. LG Elecs., Inc., No. C-13-01770-SI (EDL), 2013 WL 6354419, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 5, 2013). The party must therefore "inform the Court which discovery requests are the subject of the motion to compel, and, for each disputed response, why the information sought is relevant and why the responding party's objections are not meritorious." Hancock ...

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