Tuesday, October 03, 2006

D.D.C. Denies Motion for Protective Order Upon No Showing of "Good Cause" and Notes the Broad Scope of Discovery

Per University of Massachusetts v. Roslin Institute, 437 F. Supp. 2d 57 (D. D.C. June 20, 2006):

Basically, the defendants would like to limit the scope of this action to a review of the Board of Patent Appeals's decision. For this reason, they seek a protective order limiting the scope of discovery to issues previously discovered and raised during the Board proceedings. Protective orders are issued for good cause shown and to prevent annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, undue burden, or expense. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c). A district court may not grant a protective order without a showing of good cause. EEOC v. Nat'l Children's Ctr., Inc., 98 F.3d 1406, 1411 (D.C.Cir.1996). A mere showing that discovery may involve inconvenience and expense will not meet this threshold requirement. Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Ass'n-MEA-NEA, 556 F.Supp. 316, 318 (W.D.Mich.1983).

The defendants argue that because the district court's review of Interference proceedings under Section 146 is limited to issues presented to, and decided by, the Board, the court should limit the scope of discovery to information previously sought by the plaintiffs in preparation for the Interference proceedings. However, the proper scope of discovery is broader than the scope of admissible evidence, and includes any matter "relevant to the claim or defenses of any party." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). The plaintiffs seeks the depositions of Ian Wilmut, a named inventor, and David Wells . . . [t]he defendants do not deny these individuals' close connection with the issues germane to this case. Instead, as previously mentioned, they argue that the plaintiffs should be limited to discovery previously sought for the Interference actions. Defs.' Mot. at 1. Under these circumstances, they have failed to demonstrate "good cause" for the court to issue a protective order. Glenmede Trust Co. v. Thompson, 56 F.3d 476, 483 (3d Cir.1995) While the discovery sought may not lead to admissible evidence, the defendants have not demonstrated that the plaintiffs are attempting "to roam in shadow zones of relevancy." Food Lion, 103 F.3d at 1012.


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