Wednesday, April 18, 2018

CAFC addresses "prevailing party" concept in Raniere v. Microsoft. Inland Steel case "abrogated."

The outcome was affirmance of an award of attorneys fees:

Keith Raniere (“Raniere”) appeals from the district
court’s decisions awarding attorney fees and costs to
Microsoft Corporation and AT&T Corporation (together,
“Appellees”). Raniere v. Microsoft Corp., Nos. 15-0540 &
15-2298, 2016 WL 4626584 (N.D. Tex. Sept. 2, 2016) (Fees
Decision); Raniere v. Microsoft Corp., Nos. 15-0540 & 15-
2298, slip op. (N.D. Tex. Dec. 22, 2016) (J.A. 34–40).
Because the district court did not err in finding that
Appellees are prevailing parties under 35 U.S.C. § 285
(2012), and did not abuse its discretion in awarding
attorney fees and costs under that provision, we affirm.

Of note as to "exceptional case"

The district court next concluded that this case was
exceptional because it stood out from other cases “with
respect to the unreasonable manner in which it was
litigated. [Raniere]’s conduct throughout this litigation,
culminating in his untruthful testimony at the hearing on
the motion to dismiss, demonstrates a pattern of obfuscation
and bad faith.” Id. at *5. The district court noted
that Raniere promised repeatedly that he could produce
evidence that would cure the standing defect identified by
Appellees and the district court. Id. But Raniere failed to
satisfy these promises, according to the district court, as
“[d]espite numerous representations, [Raniere] failed to
produce any written document or other credible evidence
that he had an interest in GTI that would allow him to
transfer the patents to himself.” Id. Raniere’s conduct
required Appellees “to expend significant resources to
oppose [Raniere]’s arguments, which the Court now finds
were made in bad faith to vexatiously multiply these
proceedings and avoid early dismissal.” Id.

Zealous pursuit was rejected:

[a claim of] “zealous pursuit of his good faith claim of
ownership,” [rejected] noting its finding that Raniere “made false
and misleading representations to Defendants and the
Court that resulted in, among other things, prejudice to
Defendants in the form of significant legal fees incurred
in defending this action.” Id. The district court awarded
fees and non-taxable costs for the period of time between
the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16 conference and the
district court’s order of dismissal. Id.

Winning on an issue of standing can make a party a "prevailing party:"

We reach the same conclusion our sister circuits have
reached regarding CRST, which clarified the application
of Buckhannon to defendants seeking prevailing-party
status. The relevant inquiry post-CRST, then, is not
limited to whether a defendant prevailed on the merits,
but also considers whether the district court’s decision—
“a judicially sanctioned change in the legal relationship of
the parties”—effects or rebuffs a plaintiff’s attempt to
effect a “material alteration in the legal relationship
between the parties.” CRST, 136 S. Ct. at 1646, 1651.
And the same policy rationales the CRST Court emphasized
in support of its holding underscore § 285 actions:
the statute deters filing of “exceptional” cases—those
“that stand[] out from others with respect to the substantive
strength of a party’s litigating position (considering
both the governing law and the facts of the case) or the
unreasonable manner in which the case was litigated.”
Octane Fitness, 134 S. Ct. at 1756.


defendants need not prevail on the merits to be classified as a “prevailing
party.” To the extent inconsistent with this conclusion,
our prior case law to the contrary—Inland Steel
and its progeny—is abrogated accordingly.


Post a Comment

<< Home