NY Patent Decisions Blog

Judge Oetken Rejects Fee Award Despite Plaintiff’s Failure to Prove Standing

On March 5, 2021, the Federal Circuit affirmed U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken’s (S.D.N.Y.) order dismissing the remaining claims of plaintiff Bobcar Media, LLC (“Bobcar”).  On March 30, 2021, Judge Oetken denied a motion for attorneys’ fees by defendant Aardvark Event Logistics, Inc. (“Aardvark”).

Aardvark argued that it was entitled to attorneys’ fees because, under 35 U.S.C. § 285, the case was “exceptional” given Bobcar’s failure to produce a written assignment of patent ownership from the inventors and thus its failure to prove that it had standing to assert infringement claims.  Judge Oetken rejected this argument, holding that neither Bobcar’s substantive litigating position nor the manner in which it litigated the case were so exception as to warrant fee-shifting.  In so holding, the court noted that “the inventors—who were principals of Bobcar—had intended to transfer the patent ownership rights to Bobcar, did so verbally, and may have lost the written documentation of the assignment,” as well as that “the patents themselves listed Bobcar as assignee of the patents.”  That Bobcar was unsuccessful in “(1) proving that the written assignment existed and had been lost” or (2) seeking to join the inventors as parties did not make Bobcar’s conduct so frivolous or exceptional as to justify an award of attorneys’ fees.

Case:  Bobcar Media, LLC v. Aardvark Event Logistics, Inc., 16-CV-885 (S.D.N.Y.).