A blog about patent, copyright and trademark law in the U.S. District Court
for the Southern District of New York

Court Denies Protective Order to Nonparty Against Disclosure of Suppliers in Copyright Infringement Action

In a March 26, 2014 ruling, Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein denied a protective order to a nonparty in John Wiley & Sons, Inc.’s copyright infringement action against Book Dog Books LLC. Wiley sought discovery from the nonparty, Thomas Cahill, of the identity of his suppliers of books other than books in which Wiley has rights, and of the names of the books in which he deals that are not Wiley’s. Cahill sought a protective order against the disclosure, arguing that the information is irrelevant, and constitutes protected trade secrets.

Judge Gorenstein noted that the identity of the suppliers could show that the defendants “‘have continued to purchase from known counterfeiters,’” which could tend to show willful infringement. Thus, the Court ruled that “the identity of Cahill’s suppliers and information concerning other titles purchased are relevant under Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1), as these categories of information would bear upon whether or not defendants engaged in willful copyright infringement with respect to other books.” Judge Gorenstein rejected Cahill’s trade secret argument as well, writing “that defendants may designate these materials for the time being as ‘attorneys’ eyes only’ and for use only in this litigation. Plaintiffs will be under court order to so treat the information.” In light of that designation, the Court found that the “arguments made by Cahill are nothing more than ‘generalized and unsupported claims of harm that might result from disclosure’ to plaintiffs’ attorneys, which are insufficient for the moving party to meet its burden of showing good cause for a protective order.”
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