In 1524948 Albert Ltd. v. Doe, 2010 WL 3743907 (D. Utah Sept. 23, 2010), the United States District Court considered Plaintiff's Ex Parte Motion for Expedited Discovery in an action involving allegations of trademark infringement, trade libel, defamation, and intentional interference with contractual relationships.
The unidentified Defendants use a website at www.bestpennyauctionwebsites.com to publish allegedly false, defamatory, and infringing statements which form the basis of the Plaintiff's claims. However, despite its best efforts, Plaintiff was unable the identify the persons responsible for this activity. Accordingly, the Plaintiff asked the court to permit it to issue subpoenas to help discovery the Defendants' names, addresses, and other contact information.
Generally, a party may not seek discovery from any source until the parties have conferred as provided by Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(f). However, the traditional sequence of discovery may, for good cause, be altered by the court. In this context, "good cause" exists "where the moving party has asserted claims of infringement and unfair competition" or "where physical evidence may be consumed or destroyed with the passage of time." 1524948 Albert Ltd., 2010 WL 3743907, at *1 (citing Pod-Ners, LLC v. Northern Feed & Bean of Lucerne, LLC, 204 F.R.D. 675, 676 (D. Colo. 2002); Qwest Communications Int'l v. Worldquest Networks, Inc., 213 F.R.D. 418, 419 (D. Colo. 2003)).
The court found that good cause existed to permit the expedited discovery because the Plaintiff claimed defamation and trademark infringement. Courts often permit discovery into the identities of defendants in such cases. Moreover, the Court found that "the information Plaintiff seeks is transitory in nature and without such information this case cannot commence." Id. Accordingly, the Court granted the motion for expedited discovery and permitted Plaintiff to issue subpoenas to, inter alia, social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.