Shipping and Transit, LLC v. Hall Enterprises, Inc., 2-16-cv-06535 (CACD July 5, 2017, Order) (Guilford, USDJ)
Monday, July 10, 2017
Plaintiff's Pattern of Filing Serial Litigation and Voluntarily Dismissing Cases Involving § 101 Challenge Justifies Award of Attorney Fees
Following a dismissal and covenant not to sue while defendant's 35 U.S.C. § 101 motion was pending, the court granted defendant's motion for attorney fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285 because plaintiff's litigation tactics were unreasonable. "Although the Court agrees that filing a large number of cases does not necessarily mean Plaintiff litigated in an unreasonable manner, it nevertheless finds troubling that Plaintiff has repeatedly dismissed its own lawsuits to evade a ruling on the merits and yet persists in filing new lawsuits advancing the same claims. Specifically, Plaintiff has filed similar lawsuits (more than 90 for [two patents-in-suit] and more than 400 for [another patent]) against countless defendants. Patent litigation is expensive, so it is unsurprising that the vast majority of accused infringers choose to settle early rather than expend the resources required to show a court that the Patents-in-Suit fail under § 101. When the few challenges do occur, however, they are promptly met with voluntary dismissals with prejudice, as in this case. . . . [T]he Court finds a clear pattern of serial filings with the goal of obtaining quick settlements at a price lower than the cost of litigation and the intent to litigate even when Plaintiff should have realized it had a weak litigation position."