On May 20, 2009, ALJ Theodore R. Essex issued the public version of Order No. 22 (dated May 11, 2009) in Certain Automotive Multimedia Display and Navigation Systems, Components Thereof, and Products Containing Same (337-TA-657).  In the Order, ALJ Essex granted complainant Honeywell International, Inc.’s (“Honeywell”) motion to compel respondents Alpine Electronics, Inc. and Alpine Electronics of America, Inc. (collectively “Alpine”) to produce documents relating to “Mercedes-Benz Alpine navigation products” and a witness to testify regarding such documents.

According to the Order, Honeywell asserted that documents related to the “Mercedes-Benz Alpine navigation products” were responsive to its discovery requests.  Specifically, Honeywell requested documents related to products sold for importation as part of certain Mercedes-Benz vehicles and products imported into the U.S. for testing purposes.  In opposition, Alpine argued that the documents Honeywell sought were irrelevant to the investigation because they related to “a product that has not been released commercially” and “products that Alpine never imported for the sale in the United States.”  Alpine further argued that the documents were irrelevant because Honeywell was not seeking a general exclusion order nor a remedy against downstream products or parties other than Alpine.  The Commission Investigative Staff argued that the documents Honeywell sought were subject to discovery because certain products are “imported as part of assembled Mercedes-Benz vehicles and, thus might be considered as sold for importation” and other products are sufficiently close to completion to be relevant to the investigation.

ALJ Essex granted Honeywell’s motion to compel the production of documents and a witness.  ALJ Essex determined that Alpine did not dispute Honeywell’s assertion that certain products were imported or currently being imported into the U.S. for testing prior to their commercialization.  Further, in determining relevancy, ALJ Essex noted that the importation of the products need not be an importation for sale, but that importation alone was a sufficient basis for finding a violation.  Accordingly, ALJ Essex ruled that the products at issue fell within the scope of the investigation, and thus, documents related to those products are discoverable and relevant.