No Attorneys’ Fees for Carnegie Mellon

(CN) – A jury awarded $1.2 billion to Carnegie Mellon University in a patent case, but the university cannot collect $17.2 million in attorneys’ fees, a federal judge ruled.
     Carnegie Mellon sued Marvell Technology Group and Marvell Semiconductor for willful infringement of two sequence-detection patents in high-density magnetic recording devices.
     As the case went to trial, Marvell sought to advise the jury that it thought the suit had been unduly delayed. The court refused to enter the laches instruction, after determining that the parties had failed to meet and confer.
     On Nov. 28, 2012, the court held that the issue would not be decided by an advisory jury, since Marvell had not demonstrated when Carnegie Mellon became aware of the infringement or what evidentiary or economic prejudice Marvell allegedly had suffered due to the university’s alleged delays.
     Nearly three years after receiving privilege logs, two years after the close of discovery, and two months after a jury verdict of nearly $1.17 billion, Marvell moved to compel or review in camera laches-related documents withheld by Carnegie Mellon.
     U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer denied the motion March 5, agreeing with Carnegie Mellon that Marvell showed no good cause for the untimely discovery of privileged materials.
     The university sought $17.2 million in attorney’s fees, but Judge Fischer denied both motions.
     “From the court’s perspective, this motion is one of a host of post-trial motions filed by the parties in this case and they have made it clear there will be an appeal to the federal circuit, regardless of the court’s rulings on same,” the judge wrote. “As an appeal is virtually certain, the court finds that it is premature to decide the contested issues of attorney fees and to undertake the exceptional task of reviewing the calculations of same, at this juncture.”
     Fischer relied on U.S. District Judge William Yohn Jr.’s ruling in Teva Pharm. Indus. Ltd. v. AstraZeneca Pharms from July 2012, wherein he denied a motion for attorney fees without prejudice to the parties’ right to renew the motion after the federal circuit resolved the appeal.
     “Turning to this case, there remain numerous disputed issues between the parties, presently being litigated in post-trial motions, which will undoubtedly be raised on appeal,” Fischer wrote. “To this end, the parties have filed competing motions on willfulness, an issue which may be dispositive on whether an award of attorney fees is proper or not. Marvell also seeks a new trial on several grounds, which of course, if the court grants such relief could change the status of the parties, such that CMU may not be a prevailing party entitled to attorney fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285. Again, all of the court’s forthcoming rulings on these issues will undoubtedly be appealed. Thus, the appropriate course of action for ‘economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel and for litigants’ is to deny the instant motion, without prejudice, to be renewed after the case is fully adjudicated before the federal circuit and/or further proceeding at the trial level.”

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