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