United States District Court, S.D. New York
April 26, 2004.
A&E PRODUCTS GROUP, L.P., Plaintiff, against MAINETTI USA INC., et al., Defendants
The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT PATTERSON, Senior District Judge
OPINION AND ORDER
Defendants have made a motion for reconsideration of the Court's
determination that Plaintiff's actions before the patent office did not
constitute inequitable conduct and the Court's ruling that Plaintiff need
not disclose documents bates-stamped P01900-01, P01903-05 and P01888-89.
Plaintiff has claimed lawyer-client privilege with respect to documents
P01900-01, P01903-05 and P01888-89. Defendants contend that the testimony
of the Patentee, Mr. Zuckerman, waived lawyer-client privilege with
respect to some or all of those documents.
In September 2003, the Court held a hearing on the limited area
relating to Plaintiff's filing of an Information Disclosure Statement
(IDS) on December l3, 1993 with the Patent and Trademark Office. The IDS
placed before the Patent and Trademark Office the so-called Combinations
Hanger conceding it was prior art for purposes of this application only. The Patentee, Mr. Zuckerman, testified at the hearing on September 24,
2003 on the inequitable conduct issue. When questioned about statements
contained in the IDS, Patentee testified as follows:
Q: You made the determination to put this information
in and not the other information.
A: My lawyers drafted this document and they made
the determination of what to put in there and
what not to after speaking with me, so they
sent it to me, I would look at it, I would have
a communication with Mr. George, we would agree
and I would authorize them to send it in.
Q: You didn't have any participation in making
determinations of what did or dir not go into
the Patent Office?
A: No, I relied on my attorneys to tell me what
(Tr. Hr'g. Sept. 24, 2003 at 470.) Defendants maintain that the IDS
contains statements not relevant to the claims in the patent application
then pending. Additionally, Defendants assert that a misleading drawing
of the Combinations Patent was also submitted to the Patent and Trademark
Office by the Patentee so that the examiner would not find that the
Combinations Hanger with side sizer clip anticipated Plaintiff's
invention the application for which was pending.
Since the Patentee has testified that he relied on his attorneys to
tell him what information was required to be stated in the IDS and since
Defendants' inquiry at the hearing was stymied as to why certain language
was used in the IDS by the Patentee, the Court finds that the Patentee
has forfeited the lawyer-client privilege by his testimony. Cf. John Doe
Co. v. United States, 350 F.3d 299, 302 (2d Cir. 2003) ("In some
circumstances, courts have ruled that it would be unfair for a party
asserting contentions to an adjudicating authority to then rely on its
privileges to deprive its adversary of access to material that might
disprove or undermine the party's contentions."); Rhone-Poulenc Rorer,
Inc. v. Home Indem. Co., 32 F.3d 851, 863 (3d Cir. 1994)("Finding a waiver of the attorney client privilege when the client puts the
attorney's advice in issue is consistent with the essential elements of
the privilege."); Sanofi-Synthelabo v. Apotex Inc., 299 F. Supp.2d 303,
308 (S.D.N.Y. 2004) (quoting John Doe Co. and holding that when a partial
explanation protected by attorney client privilege is provided, then
attorney client privilege is forfeited with respect to the full
Here, P01900-01 and P01888-89 may undermine Plaintiff's contentions.
Accordingly, Plaintiff is ordered to disclose these two documents by
April 27, 2004. Document P01903-05 shall remain sealed.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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