The Patent Statute states: The court in exceptional cases may award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party. 35 U.S.C. 285.
While finding no “willfulness” in the underlying infringment, Judge Harrington has imposed attorney’s fees of $10 million based on Medtronic’s trial conduct in the long-running Medtronic/Depuy Spine patent infringement litigation. Specifically, Judge Harrington concluded that Medtronic’s lawyers attempted to “mislead and confuse the jury in a manner inconsistent with the patent claim construction required by a decision of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (linked to above).
Judge Harrington imposed this sanction under the patent statute and the court’s inherent power.
However, context is everything. Believe it or not, this amount represents only 15% of plainitiff’s attorney’s fees during one phase the case (do the math – (15%x = $10 million)). And, the liability judgement against Medtronics was $226 million.
But, still, $10 million isn’t chump change, even to Medtronics. Can you spell a-p-p-e-a-l? In fact, the whole kit and caboodle (judgment, attorney’s fees, and more), has been appealed.
Click here to read Judge Harrington’s decision.