Last month, the Supreme Court heard oral argument on Abitron Austria GmbH et al. v. Hetronic International, Inc. and considered, for the first time since 1952, the extraterritorial reach of the Lanham Act. This case presents the opportunity for the Court to establish a uniform test for the Lanham Act’s extraterritorial reach when seeking remedies in U.S. courts and to provide clarity for U.S. companies looking to protect their marks and reputation around the world.
The United States Supreme Court is finally set to resolve a Circuit split regarding whether district courts can order discovery for private commercial arbitrations abroad pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1782. The Court granted certiorari in ZF Automotive US, Inc., v. Luxshare, Ltd., No. 21-2736, after another case raising the same question was abruptly abandoned in September 2021. See Servotronics Inc. v. Rolls-Royce PLC, No. 20-794 (Sept. 8, 2021). At the heart of the issue is whether Luxshare can use the U.S. court system to get document and deposition discovery from ZF Automotive US, Inc. in the service of a pending private commercial arbitration set in Germany.
I. The Attorney-Client Privilege and Work Product Doctrine in the United States and Abroad
The attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine are important and well-known concepts to nearly every lawyer in the United States. Generally, the attorney-client privilege shields from disclosure confidential communications between attorneys and clients for the purpose of seeking or rendering legal advice, while the work product doctrine guards documents or other tangible things prepared in anticipation of litigation by or for a party.[i] The United States affords litigants and lawyers relatively broad protections under these doctrines through the Federal Rules of Evidence and Civil Procedure or, as appropriate, analogous provisions under state law.
A recent federal court order highlights the scope, and the limitations, of a U.S. court’s authority to order domestic discovery for use in a foreign proceeding under 28 U.S.C. § 1782. The court in In re Ex Parte Application of Qualcomm Incorporated rejected Qualcomm’s Section 1782 applications to subpoena a host of U.S. technology giants for information to use in Qualcomm’s defense of a Korea Fair Trade Commission (“KFTC”) proceeding.