Sometimes, aggressive litigation against patent trolls pays off. In December 2013, startup FindtheBest defeated non-practicing entity Lumen View Entertainment in court, ruling that the latter’s patent infringement suit was invalid. And now, the good news keeps coming for FindtheBest: Lumen View will also have to pay the company’s legal fees for the case.
On May 30, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that Lumen View will pay FindtheBest’s legal fees for the case, which the company said reached $200,000. In the ruling, District Court Judge Denise Cote called the case a “prototypical exceptional case.” She also claimed, “fee shifting in this case will serve as an instrument of justice.”
Judge Cote held the ability to hand down this “instrument of justice” as a direct result of the Supreme Court’s May ruling in Octane Fitness LLC v. Icon Health and Fitness Inc. In that case, the Court discarded the Federal Circuit’s previous test of determining attorney’s fees: discerning whether the case was “objectively baseless” and brought in “bad faith.” Instead, the Court relied on the dictionary definition of an “exceptional” case. Now, fee shifting is in the hands of a judge’s discretion.
In the FindtheBest case, Cote relied heavily on the Octane Fitness ruling. In the order (PDF provided by Ars Technica), Cote said, “This case is ‘exceptional’ under the totality of the circumstances test articulated in Octane Fitness. First, Lumen’s lawsuit against FTB was ‘frivolous’ and ‘objectively unreasonable.’” She later added that the “motivation” and “deterrence” prongs of the Octane Fitness ruling support fee shifting in this case.
FindtheBest CEO Kevin O’Connor told Ars Technica in a statement that the company is pleased with the ruling, and it intends to continue forward with a RICO anti-extortion lawsuit against Lumen View as well. “Settling would have been easier, but I couldn’t let myself give into this injustice,” O'Connor said. “We hope other companies see this as a sign that settling isn’t the only way out.”
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