Matthew Knouff: CDS Digital Customs Tool™ Ensures EU and U.S. Regulatory Compliance in Multinational Litigation Matters

An experienced attorney, Matthew Knouff serves as General Counsel and eDiscovery Counsel with New York-based Complete Discovery Source, Inc. (CDS Legal). One of the firm’s innovative products is CDS Digital Customs™, which facilitates cross-border data collection for international e-disclosure purposes.

Uniquely versatile, Digital Customs™ has been developed to meet U.S. discovery requirements, while maintaining full compliance with rigorous EU privacy regulations. The proprietary system combines a number of distinct discovery-related technologies in a single portable piece of equipment. The appliance can be deployed onsite and seamlessly integrate with the target infrastructure. It avoids cumbersome collections processes while efficiently identifying, filtering, de-duplicating, processing, and hosting data on-site at a corporate client’s facilities. Following the acquisition of custodian consent and other requirements, the resultant data set is carefully reviewed by attorneys for Personally Identifiable Information (PII), sensitive categories of data, responsiveness, privilege, and other criteria. Digital Customs™ is built to support terabytes of data and allows users the ability to leverage advanced analytics, Technology Assisted Review (TAR), and predictive coding functionality. Following review and compliance with all other legal and regulatory requirements, data can be exported to the United States for the final review and production phases.

In one successful assignment, Matthew Knouff and the CDS Advisory Services and Forensic Teams deployed Digital Customs™ in Germany for a major multinational manufacturing firm. The data was utilized in a U.S. civil suit that claimed unfair and deceptive trade practices, breach of contract and fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets.


Matthew Knouff: Overseas Data – International Electronic Discovery

Matthew Knouff, attorney, joined Complete Discovery Source, Inc., as General Counsel and eDiscovery Counsel in 2008. Located in New York, CDS concentrates on providing eDiscovery services that combine cost certainty with defensible results. For more information, visit

Electronic discovery, or eDiscovery, involves the identification, preservation, collection, processing, review, and production of data such as email, social media content, digital photos, and other electronic documents stored in various formats for use in legal matters. One growing area of interest in the eDiscovery discipline is the preservation and collection of data from entities located overseas.

Discovery, as we know it in the U.S., is an alien concept in many foreign jursidictions. Foreign corporations that come under the long arm of U.S. jurisdiction or U.S. companies with overseas operations may find themselves facing a unique dilemma where they are required to produce data pursuant to a U.S. discovery obligation that may be protected under privacy regulations or subject to blocking statutes.

Fortunately, there are certain practical steps that can be taken to help mitigate what many practitioners may view as a choice between Scylla and Charybdis. For further reading, please follow the included link:

The Influences of Intellectual Property

When people hear the term “intellectual property,” they probably think of creative content like books or well-known inventions. Such a definition is true but ultimately simplistic. Intellectual property, or IP, can take many forms and influence our world in many ways.

Look around anywhere you go and you will probably see some form of IP: logos, books, movies, music, machines, and more. Often, one person’s intellectual property gives way to innovations in many fields. For example, the printing press dates back to 1440 A.D. and has influenced modern methods of disseminating printed information such as newspapers and publishing. Intellectual property also grants us greater public knowledge. In return for legal protection of IP, the patent holder or other owner shares discoveries, advances in technology, or creative material with the public.

The benefits of intellectual property protect not only the creator, but consumers as well. Customers who shop for certain products often choose those items because they favor a particular brand. Trademarked brands guarantee that consumers actually receive the quality or characteristics that they associate with the brand.

About the Author

The eDiscovery Counsel and General Counsel for Complete Discovery Service, Matthew Knouff brings many years of experience in intellectual property law, technology law, and electronic discovery to his company.

Attorney Matthew Knouff answers questions about eDiscovery and litigation.

Question: eDiscovery has changed litigation, but how do these changes affect international firms?

Matthew Knouff: eDiscovery can be particularly tricky in cases involving multi-national firms. American and European laws differ with respect to privacy constraints and document discovery. This difference can be extremely pronounced with regards to preservation. Counsel must ask herself, does the attempt to satisfy the U.S. common law duty to preserve by implementing a legal hold itself cause a violation of privacy laws outside the U.S. to which compliance is equally expected? In the United States, it is not atypical for any communication generated by an employee while at work to be viewed as belonging to the corporation. Combine this concept of erring on the side of corporate ownership with the broad scope of discovery in the U.S., and you end up collecting extremely personal information during litigation discovery. Now there are checks and balances to fight against the complete loss of privacy in the workplace, but this is a stark contrast from many corporate environments outside the U.S. Within the E.U., personal data may only be processed in pursuit of a purpose allowed by the European Directive 95/46/EC. The Directive is, in effect, a regulation of exclusion (i.e., the activity is prohibited, except where it is expressly permitted). Litigation in the U.S. is not necessarily considered a legitimate purpose for processing pursuant to the Directive. While the Directive states that the processing of personal data may be undertaken where necessary to fulfill a legal obligation, it is not definitive whether an obligation arising out of U.S. jurisdictions may qualify for this derogation under the prevailing case law. The burden is on counsel to tread lightly when addressing such cross-border eDiscovery issues.

Question: Are there any tools to help with eDiscovery involving data produced in foreign countries?

Matthew Knouff: My company, Complete Discovery Source, Inc. (CDS), just launched a product that takes some of the stress out of international eDiscovery. CDS Digital Customs is a portable tool that can identify, filter, and redact documents to exclude personal data and promote compliance with the E.U. Directive or similar legal frameworks. Various features can be customized for a given country and/or language, and CDS can deploy it within hours of a collection request. For more information on our Digital Customs offering, please visit

Matthew Knouff Speaks About Cloud Computing Challenges for Law Firms.

In the April edition of the American Bar Association Journal, attorney Matthew Knouff spoke about data security and cloud computing. Knouff, the General Counsel and eDiscovery Counsel for Complete Discovery Source in New York, is an industry recognized expert on eDiscovery issues. In this difficult economy, many law firms have outsourced their data storage to cloud-based companies. While cutting back on the internal IT department saves money, it can also carry risks. In the article “As Bulging Client Data Heads for the Cloud, Law Firms Ready for a Storm,” Matthew Knouff outlines some of the greatest risks firms incur from cloud computing, and what steps they should take to protect themselves.

Matt Knouff advises firms to carefully negotiate terms of service with their cloud providers. Since cloud providers may not have the same commitment to privacy as attorneys, it is up to the law firms to protect their clients and their data. In fact, in the case of a data breach, the firm, not the cloud provider, is ultimately liable. Firms must rigorously investigate the security protocols of their providers and take steps to indemnify themselves in the case of a breach.

In addition, Knouff warns that cloud firms are allowed to turn information over to the government with minimal notice. Attorneys must negotiate a notice provision in order to ensure that they receive prompt notice if the government seizes their data. In the end, Knouff urges law firms to engage in careful risk assessment and mitigation before joining the cloud revolution.

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to the blog of Matthew Knouff.