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Computer Econ., Inc. v. Gartner Group, Inc.

United States District Court for the Southern District of California

May 25, 1999, Decided ; May 25, 1999, Filed

CASE # 98-CV-0312 TW



Before the court are defendant Gartner Group, Inc.'s objections to the magistrate judge's September 28, 1998 order sanctioning Gartner for failing to produce discovery. For the reasons expressed herein, the court sustains Gartner's objections.


Plaintiff Computer Economics, Inc. ("CEI") is a newsletter publisher specializing in the information technology industry. CEI publishes eight analytical and investigative newsletters in the fields of corporate computing, Internet marketing and electronic commerce. Defendant Gartner Group, Inc. ("Gartner") is an international publisher of various publications including books, reports, CD-ROM [**2]  discs, surveys, and analyses relating to the computer and information industry.

In November 1995 a representative from Gartner contacted CEI and arranged a tour of CEI's headquarters in Carlsbad, California. According to CEI, Gartner stated that it was seeking to expand its newsletter publishing business and was investigating possible opportunities for acquisition, including CEI. On or about January 1996, CEI allegedly sent Gartner a document containing confidential information concerning CEI's sales volumes, subscription renewal rates, and marketing techniques.

On February 16, 1996 Gartner toured CEI's headquarters a second time and was allegedly provided with additional trade secrets. At the conclusion of the tour, Gartner informed CEI that Gartner did not wish to acquire CEI's operations. During the next 18 months Gartner launched nine newsletters in direct competition with CEI, each containing content similar to CEI's newsletters.

On January 13, 1998 CEI commenced this action against Gartner in San Diego Superior Court. The complaint asserts state law claims sounding in trade secret misappropriation, breach of contract, and fraud. In essence, CEI alleges that Gartner used the [**3]  confidential information obtained during the February 1996 tour of CEI's facilities to expand its newsletter publication business. In February 1998, Gartner removed this action to federal court based on diversity of citizenship.

On March 31, 1998 CEI served Gartner with its first set of document requests and interrogatories. Gartner served timely written objections and responded that it believed CEI was required to provide a reasonably detailed list of its allegedly  [*982]  misappropriated trade secrets before Gartner was obligated to produce discovery.

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50 F. Supp. 2d 980 *; 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10365 **


Disposition:  [**1]  Defendant's objection to magistrate judge's September 28, 1998 order sustained. Gartner entitled to CCP § 2019(d) for the remainder of this litigation.


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Civil Procedure, Judicial Officers, Magistrates, Standards of Review, Criminal Law & Procedure, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, General Overview, Governments, Courts, Judges, Discovery & Disclosure, Pretrial Matters, Conferences, Pretrial Orders, Sanctions, Pretrial Sanctions, Appeals, Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions, Timing of Appeals, Clearly Erroneous Review, Pleadings, Heightened Pleading Requirements, Trade Secrets Law, Civil Actions, Discovery, Torts, Business Torts, Unfair Business Practices, Misappropriation Actions, Trade Secret Determination Factors, Ready Availability, Preliminary Considerations, Federal & State Interrelationships, Erie Doctrine, Discovery, Protective Orders, Methods of Discovery, Protection Orders, Relevance of Discoverable Information