Monday, April 28, 2008

Controversy over attorney billing in RIM v. Visto: mowing the lawn with your teeth?

Ben Moshinsky in an article titled A&O's BlackBerry patent win soured as costs inquest criticises hours tally noted:

One source said: "It's a generalisation, but North American clients do like to spend three hours every night going through the documents to make them more American. They spend hours on it, and it's a bit like mowing the lawn with your teeth." The context is important. It is not the first time RIM's legal piggybank has been smashed. In 2006 the company had six firms working flat-out for almost two years on its patent dispute with NTP, and it still had to pay out more than $600m (£302.83m) to settle the case. Opposing US firm Wiley Rein & Fielding grabbed a third of the settlement in fees, putting A&O's £5.2m in the shade.

Separately, of billing differences between an IP firm and a GP firm:

But what has made the most impact is the discrepancy in fees between A&O, a magic circle firm, and Taylor Wessing, a true IP heavyweight. The quantity of hours, rather than the rate, was the problem.
Market sources put Taylor Wessing's hourly IP partner rate at around £475 and A&O's at between £550 and £600, which implies that the two firms' prices are closer than their different bills suggest. But Floyd J noted that A&O had two associates who together worked more than 4,500 hours on the case, billing £2m.


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