Long Hua asserts that two A123 Systems products infringe a pair of Long Hua patents. Judge Stearns denied Long Hua’s motion to compel documents and interrogatories that called for information related to technical and theoretical questions at a high level of abstraction rather than relating directly to an accused product. He further denied the motion with respect to information related to products other than those specifically accused of infringement. Looking to decisions of other courts with analogous patent rules as Massachusetts, Judge Stearns determined that discovery requests directed to products not specifically accused of infringement should be determined on a case by case basis, focusing on the specificity with which the patentee articulates how the unaccused products are relevant to existing claims of infringement (e.g., how similar the accused and unaccused products are); whether the patentee can identified the unaccused products via publicly available information; and the burden on the defendant to produce the broad discovery sought. This does not allow for mere fishing expeditions – there must be a specific rationale articulated by the patentee that moves the requested discovery beyond speculation. Long Hua offered no such articulation here, instead baldly asserting that the unaccused products were similar and would infringe, so the motion with respect to these requests was denied. Judge Stearns noted in passing that the “reasonable similarity” of unaccused products was one of the things required to be discussed by the local meet and confer rules.
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