Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Disqualification of Counsel in Patent Case Requires "Factual Analysis," Not "Automatic Disqualification Rule"

The court sustained defendants' objection to the magistrate judge's order disqualifying their counsel. "[P]atent cases are more likely to involve intensely complex, specialized issues that require experienced, knowledgeable counsel, and mandatory disqualification may work prejudice to a party by depriving it of its counsel of choice. As such, mandatory disqualification may serve to encourage the use of disqualification motions solely for tactical reasons -- a use courts have repeatedly expressed concerns about. . . . [T]he Court finds that the Magistrate Judge, by applying an automatic disqualification rule, failed to undertake the necessary factual analysis and weigh the relevant factors before disqualifying [defense counsel] from representing [defendant] in this case. As such, the decision is erroneous and shall be set aside."

Wyeth et al. v. Abbott Laboratories et al., 3-08-cv-00230 (NJD February 8, 2010, Opinion) (Pisano, J.)

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