Thursday, June 10, 2010

$4.8 Million Attorneys' Fee Award Designed to Reimburse not Punish

The court granted defendant's motion to declare the case exceptional warranting an award of $4.8 Million in attorneys' fees based on plaintiff's inequitable conduct even though another court had already ordered plaintiff to pay more than $8 Million in fees and costs based on the same inequitable conduct. "[Plaintiff] maintains that despite its inequitable conduct which gave rise to the unenforceability of the patents-in-suit and the present 'exceptional' case, [plaintiff] has already been 'severely punished' by [another] court’s award of attorneys’ fees and costs in that case. . . . However, the Court’s decision to award attorneys’ fees and costs does not hinge on whether a party has been sufficiently 'punished' in another proceeding, but instead, focuses on the issue of whether in the Court’s discretion, [defendant] should be reimbursed for the cost of defending against a suit which [plaintiff] has conceded was based upon invalid and unenforceable patents. . . . The Court notes that [plaintiff] initiated these proceedings against [defendant] in this forum, seeking to exploit the protections afforded by the United States patent laws for patents that it improperly procured based upon its own inequitable conduct."

Aventis CropScience v. Pioneer Hi-Bred Intl., Inc., et. al., 1-00-cv-00463 (NCMD June 8, 2010, Memorandum Opinion & Order) (Beaty, J.)

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