Match Defends First Amendment Rights and Defeats Apple’s Motion to Compel

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Hueston Hennigan won a complete victory in a significant discovery battle before Magistrate Judge Hixson of the Northern District of California, who found that Apple’s “improper” requests infringed Match’s First Amendment rights.

“We are pleased with the Court’s thorough order, which recognized that enforcing Apple’s subpoena would chill Match’s protected advocacy for robust antitrust enforcement and fairness in the online app marketplace,” said partner Doug Dixon. “Apple improperly sought to use the discovery process to peek behind the curtain of its political opponents.”

We represent Match Group, which operates Tinder, OKCupid, and PlentyofFish, among other widely-popular dating apps. Match is a founding member of the Coalition for App Fairness, a nonprofit advocacy group opposed to anticompetitive practices in the online app marketplace. This dispute arose after Apple served a third-party subpoena on Match in connection with the Epic Games v. Apple litigation and related class actions concerning Apple’s app store policies. Apple’s subpoena sought discovery of Match’s internal communications with the Coalition and other app developers. The dispute was closely-watched for its First Amendment implications.

In denying Apple’s motion to compel, Judge Hixson ruled for Match on every point in dispute. Judge Hixson found that Apple’s requests were improper, explaining that he “[could] not understand how” documents about the Coalition could be “relevant and proportional to the needs of” the underlying cases seeking to hold Apple liable for antitrust violations. Judge Hixson further found that enforcing the subpoena would chill Match’s and the Coalition’s First Amendment-protected advocacy, asking “[w]ho in their right mind would want to participate in a public advocacy organization, knowing that all their internal communications about strategy, lobbying, planning, and so on, would be turned over to their principal opponent?”

The Hueston Hennigan team included Doug Dixon, Joseph Reiter, and William Larsen.