November 9, 2017
A recent Delaware Business Court Insider story by Tom McParland, “Samsung Opposes Fees in ‘Duplicative’ Suit, Citing Appeal” reports that Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. told a federal judge in Delaware that any decision on Imperium IP Holdings’ motion for sanctions for having to defend a “duplicative” suit should be delayed pending an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
In a 23-page filing, Samsung said that a decision from the appeals court could moot Imperium’s request for $247,000 in the case, which followed a $20 million patent infringement ruling against Samsung in a Texas federal court. Last month, U.S. District Judge Mark A. Kearney dismissed Samsung’s second-filed case in Delaware and criticized the electronics giant for “duplicating” the earlier litigation in order to attack the result in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
Imperium filed its motion for attorney fees two weeks later, arguing that Samsung’s “bad-faith” tactics had qualified the case as exceptional under U.S. patent law. The court, Imperium said, also had the authority to award fees based on Samsung’s decision to “unreasonably and vexatiously” multiply proceedings.
Samsung notified Kearney that it was appealing the Oct. 10 order and asked that consideration of motion for attorney fees be deferred until after the Third Circuit could weigh in. Even then, Samsung said, the “exceptional” designation did not apply to a breach-of-contract suit, and Imperium had failed to prove bad faith conduct that would trigger the court’s discretion in granting sanctions.
“Samsung and Imperium have been engaged in hard-fought litigation for over three years, and Samsung’s filing and prosecution of this action in good-faith reliance on the forum selection clause is nothing more than vigorous advocacy,” attorneys for the company wrote. ”Awarding attorneys’ fees under these circumstances will only serve to promote what courts strive to avoid: a chilling effect on an attorney’s legitimate ethical obligation to represent clients zealously.”
The case is Samsung Electronics v. Imperium IP Holdings.