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Apple, Cisco Must Redo Fee Requests in ‘Reckless’ IP Actions

November 22, 2019 | Posted in : Expenses / Costs, Fee Award Factors, Fee Entitlement, Fee Reduction / Fee Denial, Fee Request

A recent Law 360 story by Tiffany Hu, “Apple, Cisco Must Redo Fee Request in ‘Reckless’ IP Fight,” reports that U.S. District Judge William Alsup is ordering Apple and Cisco to resubmit their bids for attorney fees from a tech company they say dragged them into “recklessly litigated” patent disputes, warning that he may deny relief entirely if the new calculations are unreasonable.  In an order, the California federal judge partially granted Apple and Cisco’s motions for attorney fees after they defeated patent lawsuits brought by Straight Path IP Group Inc. over internet voice and video calling technology, finding Straight Path’s “duplicitous machinations” rendered the cases exceptional and thus warrant such fees.

But Judge Alsup refused to approve the $10 million in attorney fees the tech giants sought after their summary judgment win against Straight Path. Apple sought $4.6 million in fees and litigation costs, while Cisco asked for $5.3 million, with the latter saying the lawsuit was "recklessly litigated" and "the poster child" for exceptional cases meriting such large fees.  Specifically, the judge said Apple’s request improperly included fees relating to an ex-parte reexamination for one of the patents at issue.  While the reexamination had put all proceedings involving that patent on hold, it was held in a separate forum and had “nothing to do with” Straight Path’s litigation misconduct, he found.

“Apple’s fee request well illustrates the evil of satellite litigation over attorney’s fees motions,” the judge’s order states.  “The court would be inclined to deny Apple’s request altogether on account of this overreaching.”  Judge Alsup said he would give the tech giants until Dec. 5 to resubmit their fee bids, adding that any items “unreasonably” included may lead to a deduction of up to three times the amount of that item from the total figure.  The court “may possibly deny relief altogether,” he added.