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January 24, 2013

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This seems unlikely to me: Attorneys fees are awarded based on reasonableness. A judge might have discretion on damages, but this is nuts and bolts accounting.

Could it have been sanctions, rather than attorney fees?

As in "you should have KNOWN you were wasting everyone's time, and here's a slap upside the head to make it clear" ?

Well, attorney's fees are not that normal, so it could be that the judge was so annoyed he awarded attorneys fees. Which happened to be 2 million.

But that would mean the cases cost the firm 2 million (or more accurately paid the firm for its work). But that is a lot of attorney fees, and other than BP, it is hard to see who fronts that much on a gamble.

jrudkis,

Well then, kudos to that law firm! In fact, if the idiots at Mattel had left well enough alone to http://www.finnegan.com/MattelIncvWalkingMountainProds/>NOT APPEAL the company would be two million bucks richer + the dough THEY laid out for their attorneys after the initial lower court rebuff.

Where are the angry shareholders when you need them?

Summary of the case.

Trial court:

The district court denied defendant’s request for attorney’s fees, however, because the case was not “exceptional.”

Appellate court:

Finally, the Ninth Circuit vacated and remanded the district court’s denial of attorney’s fees under both the trademark and copyright laws because it failed to provide any reasoning for concluding that the case was not exceptional.

Trial court proceedings on remand:

On remand, the district court awarded defendant its attorney’s fees and costs on both the copyright and trademark claims. Regarding plaintiff’s trademark infringement, trade dress infringement, and dilution claims, the court determined that all three claims were “groundless and unreasonable“ to make them “exceptional” for purposes of awarding attorney’s fees under the Lanham Act. In particular, the court relied on plaintiff’s status as a “sophisticated plaintiff” to support its finding that plaintiff’s dilution claim was unreasonable and groundless. The court awarded defendant $1,584,089 in attorney’s fees and $241,797.09 in costs.

Attorney fees in federal court are typically computed by the lodestar method, where the court determines what hourly rate is appropriate (based on some combination of twelve specified factors), determines what number of hours was reasonably expended, and multiplies the two figures.

Sanctions for frivolous litigation may, but do not necessarily, include attorney fees.

Mr. Herbison is correct. This is a one-off pop tied into the effort the defendant had to expend defending a meritless claim. Glad his lawyers got paid.

And the award was so stunning, there was never a frivolous intellectual property lawsuit again. The end.

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