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Judge Netburn Finds Defendant That Won Partial Summary Judgment Is a "Prevailing Party" for Purposes of Attorneys' Fees

In her September 2018 summary judgment decision, U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan (S.D.N.Y.) found that one of seven patents asserted by Plaintiff Seoul Viosys Co. ("SVC") was invalid, and that SVC was not entitled to a remedy for infringement of another asserted patent.  However, Judge Nathan found that the five remaining patents were valid. Plaintiff's claims related to those five patents were subsequently resolved by stipulation with Defendant P3 International Corp. ("P3").

On October 8, 2019, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn recommended denying P3's motion for attorneys' fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285.  In doing so, Judge Netburn found that P3 was the "prevailing party" within the meaning of the statute, even though the court granted judgment in its favor on only two of the seven asserted patents.

P3 argued that SVC's infringement claims were so "objectively unreasonable" as to be "exceptional" under the statute.  Relying on Judge Nathan's denial of P3's Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings, however, Judge Netburn found that SVC's claims were "not so frivolous as to be exceptional."

Judge Netburn also rejected P3's argument that SVC's litigation conduct rendered the case "exceptional."  While acknowledging that the litigation had been "needlessly aggressive, costly, and protracted," Judge Netburn reasoned that it was as much P3's fault as SVC's, noting the parties' four motions for reconsideration and "lack of cooperation and collegiality" between the parties. Such conduct on the part of both parties did not render the case sufficiently "rare" or "exceptional" to warrant an award of attorneys' fees.

Case:  Seoul Viosys Co., Ltd. v. P3 Int'l Corp., No. 1:16-CV-6276 (S.D.N.Y.).