Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How many motions for enhanced damages or attorneys' fees have been filed in the California federal district courts?

An award of enhanced damages or attorneys’ fees can significantly increase the stakes of a patent case. Like many other aspects of patent litigation, the questions of whether an award is appropriate and if so the amount are both entrusted to the discretion of the district court. Here again, knowing how a particular judge has ruled on the issue in past cases can help tailor a request for enhanced damages or opposition thereto.

Docket Navigator was designed to track awards of enhanced damages and attorneys’ fees in several different ways. First, when a court rules on a motion for enhanced damages or attorneys’ fees, we flag that order by type of motion (e.g., order on “motion for enhanced damages/attorneys’ fees”). Second, we record the legal concepts addressed in the order. For example, in a motion for enhanced damages or attorneys’ fees, the court might address the issues of willfulness, trial misconduct, vexatious litigation, copying, etc. Once the court has determined that an award is appropriate, it sometimes requests a second round of briefing on the amount of fees or enhanced damages to award. Because this second round of briefing involves different legal concepts (e.g., reasonableness of hourly rate and hours billed), we record a different set of legal issues for this second step (e.g., “calculating attorneys’ fees”). Finally, we separately record any remedy including the type, the amount, the party against whom the remedy was awarded, and the recipient.

Today’s Question of the Day asks for a simple count of motions and a break-down of those that were granted versus those that were denied. Watch the short video to see how we answered the question using Docket Navigator.

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