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Google Ducks Nokia’s Patent-Related Subpoena

SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) - Nokia is not entitled to evidence of Google's dealings with HTC for its navigation technology patent dispute in Germany, a California federal judge ruled.

In its international assail on Taiwan-based HTC, Nokia has claimed that several of its patents were infringed to build HTC cellphones and tablets.

The U.S. International Trade Commission agreed last year to investigate Nokia's claims, and the Finnish company has also alleged more than 50 patent infringements in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the U.K. and Japan.

As part of ongoing patent litigation in Germany's Dusseldorf Regional Court, Nokia sought to subpoena Google in California for source code and documents regarding navigation technology it provided to HTC.

Specifically, Nokia sought information about how Google servers handle map and routing requests from HTC phones and all the technical specifications of the Google Maps and Google Navigation applications.

U.S. Magistrate Paul Grewal conceded that federal law allows discovery orders for foreign litigation as a general rule, but said his ability to compel discovery is limited since Google is not a party to the proceedings at hand.

Furthermore, the "unbridled nature of Nokia's request" puts an undue burden on Google and impermissibly intrudes on its proprietary information, according to the Nov. 8 ruling.

"Nokia seeks information about nothing less than (1) all Google servers, regardless of whether they are owned or operated by Google directly or indirectly, (2) all forthcoming versions of Google Maps and Google Navigation implemented on any HTC product, and (3) all 'Connections' whether 'viewed by Google as direct or indirect' with any 'Mobile Data Network,' which 'shall mean any cellular or mobile network for providing digital data service ... including but not limited to any mobile exchange or other components of said network' or a 'Wireless Local Area Network,' which 'shall mean any wireless local area network for providing digital data service, including but not limited to IEEE 802.11 (WiFi) networks and components thereof,'" Grewal wrote. "With no copy of the German complaint or other pleading regarding Nokia's infringement contentions, the court agrees with Google that these demands would impose an undue burden. While Nokia suggests that any undue burden can be mitigated in meet-and-confer, or addressed in a motion to quash, Nokia's position overlooks its burden to come to the court with narrowly-tailored requests in the first instance. It is no substitute to kick the can down the road - especially when Google has appeared before the court to address the scope of the requests up front. Because Nokia's subpoena application is not narrowly tailored, and appears highly intrusive as well as unduly burdensome, this factor weighs strongly against Nokia's request."

Grewal invited Nokia to try again, but put the company "on notice that its application must be narrowly tailored, justifying the relief it is seeking."

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