Friday, August 9, 2013

Outside Attorney’s Breach of Loyalty to Defendant Does Not Warrant Disqualification of Plaintiff’s Counsel

The court denied defendant's motion to disqualify plaintiff's counsel. "[Defendant] moves to disqualify [plaintiff's counsel] . . . in this matter because [counsel] is alleged to be tainted as a result of the conduct of . . . an attorney who was a partner in one of [defendant's] regular outside law firms and the husband of one of [plaintiff's] co-founders and directors. . . . Over a period of nearly six years, by assisting [plaintiff] and his wife in finding and retaining a law firm that would sue [defendant] for patent infringement, and by assisting in efforts to find a firm that would buy the patent to sue [defendant] itself, [the attorney] acted contrary to [defendant's] interests. . . . But there is no evidence that [he] ever received material confidential information about [defendant] during his time at [defense counsel's firm], let alone passed it on to [plaintiff's counsel's firm], except for the [email from defendant regarding the potential conflict]. Further, [his] role in this litigation has been minimal at best. [Plaintiff's counsel's firm] was not aware of his potential ethical issues until [defendant] raised them. . . . Disqualification would prejudice [plaintiff] and is not appropriate under the circumstances."

Flatworld Interactives LLC v. Apple Inc., 3-12-cv-01956 (CAND August 7, 2013, Order) (Orrick, J.).

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