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District Court Sanctions Defendants for Failing to Agree to Standard Protective Order

In this patent infringement action, the plaintiff filed a motion for entry of a standard protective order after the defendant would not agree to sign a stipulated protective order. As explained by the district court, the plaintiffs sued defendants, alleging that they infringed on several patents.

After the lawsuit was filed, plaintiffs’ counsel requested that defendants’ counsel sign off on a stipulated protective order to protect certain confidential/proprietary materials that the parties were going to exchange in discovery. The district court explained that “[t]his is standard operating procedure in patent cases in federal court and the parties and the Court routinely sign off on them in these cases.”

Nonetheless, the defendants’ counsel refused to sign off on the standard protective order and “provided vague, unpersuasive reasons for doing so.” As a result, plaintiffs filed a motion seeking to compel defendants to sign off on the stipulated order, but the district court denied the motion because the plaintiffs had not complied with Local Rule 37, which requires a joint stipulation on a motion to compel.

When it denied the motion, however, the district court explained that if the defendants “did not sign the stipulation for a protective order and did not have a good reason for failing to do so they would be sanctioned.”

The defendants apparently did not heed the district court’s warning. “Unfortunately, Defendants simply ignored the Court’s admonition and again refused to sign off on the protective order, prompting this motion.”

The district court also did not appreciate that the defendants failed to comply with the local rules. “Defendants’ counsel then compounded the problem by failing to timely provide his half of the joint stipulation as mandated by Local Rule 37. Defendants’ explanations for not signing off on the stipulated protective order set forth in their brief that followed are categorically rejected.”

The district court also found that sanction were appropriate. “Further, the Court finds that sanctions are warranted here because Defendants had no valid justification for not signing the order and because they failed to cooperate in the joint stipulation process.”

Unilin Veheer B.V. v. Topstar Flooring LLC, Case No. 14-2199-RSWL (PJW) (C.D. Cal. Jan. 6, 2015)

The authors of are patent trial lawyers at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. We represent inventors, patent owners and technology companies in patent licensing and litigation. Whether pursuing patent violations or defending infringement claims, we are aggressive and effective advocates for our clients. For more information contact Stan Gibson at 310.201.3548 or