November 1, 2023
A recent Law 360 story by Lauren Berg, “Columbia Univ.’s IP Win Grows to $600M With Fees, Interest”, reports that Columbia University and NortonLifeLock Inc. told a Virginia federal judge that the university should receive nearly $120 million in attorney fees and interest in an infringement case over anti-malware patents, bringing Columbia's total award to just over $600 million. U.S. District Judge M. Hannah Lauck on Sept. 30 nearly tripled a jury's $185 million willful infringement verdict, bringing the total to more than $481 million, while ordering Norton — now known as Gen Digital Inc. — to pay attorney fees for its litigation misconduct. She also held its counsel at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP in contempt for not complying with a court order involving a witness whose testimony has been controversial.
In a stipulation, Columbia and Gen Digital agreed the university would receive nearly $20.7 million in attorney fees, $4.8 million in supplemental damages, $71 million in prejudgment interest and $22 million in post-judgment interest, among other costs, for a total award of $600 million. However, Gen Digital has appealed the judgment to the Federal Circuit, and the parties have agreed they retain all rights, in the event that the court's final judgment is reversed, modified or vacated, according to the stipulation. Gen Digital has also obtained a $600 million bond to stay execution of the judgment while the appeal plays out, the parties said.
The unanimous jury reached its verdict in May 2022 after three days of deliberation, following a two-week trial in the case brought by Columbia in December 2013. The jury found that Gen Digital infringed two patents related to cybersecurity safeguards developed by Columbia's professors. They also found that the intellectual property theft was willful, allowing the court discretion to treble the damages up to $555 million. In her final judgment in September, Judge Lauck elected to multiply the jury's verdict by 2.6.
In a sanctions opinion unsealed earlier this month, the judge outlined years of "abhorrent litigation conduct" by Gen Digital's attorneys at Quinn Emanuel and found that when Latham & Watkins LLP took over as lead counsel for the company it likewise "impeded" the litigation. "Norton's second lead counsel, Latham, poured fuel on the fire," the opinion stated, adding soon after that "the pattern of questionable conduct thus outlasted Quinn's direction of the litigation."
While Latham escaped sanctions, Judge Lauck cited an "extensive and unprecedented record" of "disquieting conduct of both sets of Norton's attorneys." Quinn has represented Norton in the nearly decade-long litigation, while Latham was brought in two weeks before trial. In just a single paragraph of her 42-page opinion, the judge ripped into Latham, stating that its attorneys "hid key communications" regarding Saudi Arabia-based expert Marc Dacier, who was central to the pretrial misconduct dispute. Latham joined the case two weeks before trial but was still found to have acted improperly.