Judge Releases Order Focusing Motorola-Hytera Case on Timeliness
Friday, September 08, 2017 | Comments

A U.S. district court judge converted Hytera Communications’ motion to dismiss Motorola Solutions’ theft of trade secrets case into a motion for summary judgment. As part of the motion, Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan stayed all discovery in the case not related to the timeliness of Motorola’s complaint.

In a summary judgment, a judge decides a case without a full trial, and the decision can be based on all the merits of a case or individual merits. For the converted motion, Der-Yeghiayan will focus on whether or not Motorola was untimely in filing its complaint.

“While a court can in certain instances resolve a statute of limitations issue at the motion to dismiss stage, in order to assess what Motorola knew or should have known, and when, the court will need to delve into the evidence beyond the pleadings,” Der-Yeghiayan wrote in his order.

“… Although Motorola’s claims appear to be untimely based upon the representations made by defendants, the court concludes that this case can proceed in the most efficient manner if the court determines whether the statute of limitations issue can be resolved at this stage of the proceedings in a motion for summary judgment,” the judge concluded.

The statute of limitations is three years under the federal law and five years under the Illinois law. According to Motorola’s original complaint, the alleged theft of trade secrets occurred in 2008, and Hytera began selling products that allegedly included the stolen proprietary information in 2010.

Motorola filed the theft of trade secrets case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in March. In June, Hytera filed a motion asking Der-Yeghiayan to dismiss the case.

In its motion, Hytera argued that under both the Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act and the Illinois Trade Secret Act, the statute of limitations had passed. Hytera said there was enough publicly available information for Motorola to have been aware of the alleged thefts prior to the expiration of the statutes of limitations.

Under the trade secrets laws, the statute of limitations does not start running until the theft is “discovered or by the exercise of reasonable diligence should have been discovered.”

In its own response to Hytera’s motion to dismiss, Motorola argued that the publicly available information Hytera cited was not enough to make it aware of the alleged thefts.

In one of several replies about the motion to dismiss, Hytera asked Der-Yeghiayan, if he chose not approve the motion to dismiss, to institute a phase of discovery focused specifically on the timeliness of Motorola’s complaint.

Der-Yeghiayan gave Motorola and Hytera until Oct. 6 to conduct any more discovery related to the timeliness of Motorola’s complaint. Hytera has until Oct. 20 to file a memorandum in support of the motion for summary judgment. Motorola will then have until Nov. 3 to file a response to that document, and Hytera will have until Nov. 17 to reply to Motorola’s response.

In addition to the theft of trade secrets case, Motorola also filed a patent infringement case against Hytera in the same district court. That case is on hold pending the outcome of a patent infringement case Motorola filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Motorola has also filed three patent infringement suits against Hytera internationally in the German regional courts of Dusseldorf and Mannheim and the Federal Court of Australia.

Hytera filed a patent infringement suit of its own against Motorola in late August. That case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

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