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Losing Plaintiff on the Hook for $8.4M in Attorney Fees

December 1, 2011 | Posted in : Defense Fees / Costs, Fee Award, Fee Entitlement / Recoverability, Fee Issues on Appeal, Prevailing Party Issues

A recent The Recorder story “Linear Technology on the Hook for $8.4 Million in Attorney Fees” reports that a California court of appeals upheld a defense judgment in favor of Novellus System Inc. and Tokyo Electron Corp. in a protracted contract fight over semiconductor processing equipment.  The decision left plaintiff Linear Technology Corp., a semiconductor manufacturer, on the hook for $8.4 million in attorney fees in the breach of contract case.

After eight years of litigation by Linear Technology, a jury in 2010 rendered a verdict for the defense.  Texas Instruments Inc., in multiple lawsuits in federal court alleged that the equipment Linear used infringed on TI’s patents. Linear agreed to pay TI $70 million.  The firm then turned around and sued Novellus and Tokyo Electron, who had supplied the equipment in 2002.  After the jury decided there was no breach of contract, Linear moved for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.  The company argued it had proved its case as a matter of law.

The trial court awarded $5.2 million to Novellus and $3.2 to Tokyo Electron Corp. in attorney fees.  The appellate panel affirmed that attorney fee award because Linear would have been entitled to fees if it had prevailed.

The case is Linear Technology v. Tokyo Electron.