Sunbeam Products, Inc. v. Oliso Inc., 3-13-cv-03577 (CAND March 4, 2014, Order) (Illston, J.)
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Plaintiff’s Merger With Defense Counsel’s Former Client Warrants Disqualification
The court granted plaintiff's motion to disqualify defense counsel who had served as lead patent counsel for a company that merged with plaintiff. "[F]or purposes of Rule 3-310(E), [plaintiff] is [defense counsel's] former client. By virtue of [the] merger with [plaintiff], [plaintiff] is now the holder of the attorney-client privilege relating to [defense counsel's] representation of [the company that merged with plaintiff]. . . . [Defense counsel's] extensive and long-term representation of [that company] unquestionably created an attorney-client relationship between them. [The] subsequent merger with [plaintiff] did not extinguish that relationship. [Defense counsel's] argument to the contrary 'exalts substance over form,' and is contrary to purposes of the attorney-client relationship."