Judge Denies Motorola Motion to Examine Hytera Computers
By Danny Ramey, Web Editor
Friday, June 01, 2018 | Comments

A U.S. magistrate judge denied a Motorola Solutions motion for a forensic examination of Hytera Communications computers in China, saying that a limited discovery period had already lasted too long.

“While the inquiry should have been uncomplicated, it has become a long, drawn out, pitched battle — one, in a rhetorical sense, to rival the Punic Wars — albeit without the elephants and the Alps and the sheer drama,” Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole wrote.

Cole handed down the decision in the theft of trade secrets suit that Motorola filed against Hytera last year. In September, following a Hytera Communications motion to dismiss the case on the basis that the statute of limitations, Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan converted that motion into a motion for summary judgment and instituted a period of discovery focused specifically on the timeliness of Motorola’s complaint.

That discovery period was supposed to last one month but has now extended nine months, Cole wrote. Following his decision, Der-Yeghiayan handed management of the discovery period to Cole.

“Deadlines were extended, from one month to several,” Cole wrote. “Thousands of memoranda and exhibits were filed. And, again, this was all over the supposedly limited discovery on a limited topic that ought to have taken little time and effort. The very nature of what occurred tends to sustain the all too prevalent observation that discovery has become more important than the actual case.”

Motorola’s request was based off two emails that Hytera had provided during discovery that showed “Hytera thought certain software should be rewritten to make it look different from Motorola software,” according to Cole’s order.

This type of information would fall into the narrow discovery period because it could potentially show Hytera tried to conceal its actions, Cole wrote. Under federal and state trade secret laws, the statute of limitations begins when a theft of trade secrets is discovered or should have been discovered through reasonable due diligence, a practice known as equitable tolling in legal terms.

However, Cole wrote that after initially granting Motorola’s request in a status conference, he later determined that much of the information Motorola was seeking on the computers went beyond the scope of the discovery period.

“But nothing in any of Motorola’s filings shows how the information it hopes to find in the computers in China through forensic examination has anything to do with equitable tolling of the statute of limitations and fraudulent concealment,” Cole wrote.

Cole also noted that it was unclear how the information contained on the computers would help Motorola prove that Hytera had fraudulently concealed its actions to prevent Motorola from learning of the alleged theft of trade secrets prior to expiration of the statute of limitations.

“Motorola never had access to any of Hytera’s computers any more than it does now, so how would Hytera deleting or hiding the files in China prevent Motorola from discovering it had a claim in Chicago or Malaysia?” Cole wrote. “ In other words, Motorola was not relying on some act of Hytera that inappropriately lulled it into not filing or believing it had no case.

“Conversely, Hytera could have never deleted or hidden Motorola’s trade secrets; it could have posted them on a video screen in their offices in China,” Cole added. “How would that allow Motorola, in Chicago or Malaysia, to discover they had a claim? Motorola had never had an answer for any of this.”

Cole concluded that an examination of the Hytera computers would be out of proportion with the current needs of the case and would unnecessarily extend a discovery period that had extended long past what was necessary.

“The time has come to say, ‘Enough is enough,’ ” Cole wrote. “Eight months of ‘limited,’ single-issue discovery are now at an end. Motorola’s motion for forensic inspection is denied.”

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Comments
On 6/6/18, SCOTT ADAMS said:
This is so typical of the legion of Moto lawyers...the same as it's been for decades. The little people that Moto loves to beat up on settle because of the protracted legal maneuvers by the thousands of Moto lawyers. Kudos to Judge Cole for not being bullied. It's about time.

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