Interesting order out of the Northern District of California Monday. The district court granted summary judgment, and then granted defendant’s motion to join plaintiff’s founder/inventor as a necessary party and pursue attorney fees against him under 35 U.S.C. § 285. Noting that the plaintiff did not appear to have assets from which an award could be paid, the Court found that “[g]iven [the founder’s] controlling shareholder power and his status as the only person from [plaintiff] who is involved in this litigation, the Court finds that [his] activities may potentially subject him to liability for attorneys’ fees and that he should be joined in this action.” The cites to Iris Connex begin on page 14, and build to a climax around page 20. Unlike that case, the only issue presented here was whether the third party should be joined, and not whether he was liable, if so, whether he should be held jointly and severally liable with the plaintiff, and what the amount of fees should be. Those issues are yet to be briefed. cand-5-15-cv-01238-442
After a four-day trial in December, a Marshall jury in Judge Roy Payne’s court found that Defendant TCL willfully infringed claims 1 and 5 of United States Patent No. 7,149,510 asserted by Plaintiff Ericsson by selling phones and devices equipped with the Google Android operating system, and the jury awarded $75 million as a lump sum royalty.
The court previously ordered a new trial on damages after finding Ericsson’s damages theory unreliable, but last Thursday the Court reconsidered that order, reinstated the jury’s verdict in full, and resolved all other remaining disputes, i.e. TCL’s motions for judgment as a matter of law, and Ericsson’s motions for enhanced damages and attorney’s fees.
We have another data point on whether a prevailing plaintiff gets enhanced damages, as well as whether the case is “exceptional” for purposes of attorneys fees.
With apologies to Dickens, that’s what a motion for exceptional case status under 35 USC 285 is, and we have another interesting EDTX decision on which facts will get you more soup. (Or a beating).
This is the first weblog post I have written standing at the podium in an EDTX courtroom, but the counsel table chairs are too low to use counsel table, and nobody else is in here, so why not? My cocounsel Brent Carpenter and I just finished a jury trial in Judge Trey Schroeder’s court in Texarkana, and while waiting on the jury (which is still out) I saw that Judge Schroeder put out a 54 page opinion resolving postverdict motions in the Elbit v. Hughes case, include exceptional case fees, yesterday so I wanted to post on that.
The procedural history of this case is a long one. Essentially, Adjustacam originally sued 58 defendants in 2010. It dismissed most of its claims prior to Markman, and then in the fall of 2012 dismissed its claims against the last defendant, Newegg. Newegg sought fees under Section 285 and Judge Davis denied the motion. Octane Fitness then came out while that decision was on appeal, changing the standard for determinations of “exceptional case” under Section 285, and Newegg sought fees again. The trial court, now Judge Gilstrap, denied the renewed motion. The Federal Circuit reversed and found the case “exceptional”, and Judge Gilstrap ordered briefing on the amounts of fees. This afternoon he issued the attached order setting the fees.
Well, it’s certainly both an enhanced and exceptional day for me, as Paul Allen’s team located the wreck of the carrier Lexington in the Coral Sea, 76 years after it sank, along with – to date – 11 of the 35 aircraft it had on board when it went down.
Yes, I’m the crazy uncle that makes handcrafted wood Lexington toys for his cousins’ kids – as well as the occasional plastic model of one – but you know, every family has one of those, doesn’t it? So today, the Lexington comes with me to the office to celebrate.
Also celebrating this morning is plaintiff Eidos Display, which, following a lengthy campaign, won a 2x enhancement of its recent $4.1 million jury verdict against competitor Chi Mei Innolux. Like the Battle of the Coral Sea both sides won something, with Innolux defeating Eidos’ request for attorneys fees under Section 285. So let’s analyze what happened, note some significant comments in the opinion, and say hello to LBJ, Mr. Sam, and some East Texas lawyer sayings along the way.
The defendant in this case won a summary judgment of no infringement and asked the court to declare the case exceptional under 35 U.S.C. § 285 and award $700,000 in attorneys’ fees. The court’s resolution of the motion is yet another data point showing what conduct by a serial filer/bulk filer/ high volume filer is sufficient to trigger liability under Section 285.
I don’t mean to imply that my holidays are so dull and uneventful, or my interests so limited that a Section 285 order constitutes excitement – but given that my middle
doppelganger child Parker’s favorite Christmas presents are a Black Sheep squadron T-shirt and a B-17 bag, it’s certainly possible that’s the case. (For more information on the Black Sheep, see this post on my personal weblog. Because it’s the holidays I’ll spare you from why both the T-shirt and the bag are not totally accurate).
In any event, the attached order provides yet another instance where a court found that despite one side having lost, the case wasn’t “exceptional” for Section 285 purposes, and along the way points out arguments that are not helpful, as well as some that might be.
And now I’m back to my “fall of shot” analogy for motions for fee awards, with a second one to discuss today from the same judge. In this case, Judge Payne addressed a prevailing defendant’s request for fees and expenses, and denied the motion as to the patent claims, but granted it as to the trademark claims.