Two orders recently issued regarding whether district court litigation should be stayed pending inter partes review.  In both cases, the IPR petition had been filed recently, and the institution decision had not yet issued—but the results could not have been more different.  Judge Tigar granted a stay in Uniloc USA, Inc. v. LG Electronics U.S.A. Inc. (Case No. 3:18-cv-06739, “Uniloc”).  Two floors down, Judge Orrick went the other way in J & K IP Assets, LLC v. Armaspec, Inc. (Case No. 3:17-cv-07308, “J & K”).

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Defendant Shine Bathrooms had already been hit with an order for default judgment and double damages in a patent case brought by Robern, Inc.  And the hits keep coming for Shine, as it was recently ordered to pay over $250,000 in attorneys’ fees under the “exceptional case” standard of 35 U.S.C. § 285.

Notably, Judge Seeborg awarded attorneys’ fees even though there had been no explicit finding of willfulness.  The opinion explains the relationship between willfulness and exceptional case fees: a finding of willfulness is “a sufficient basis” for awarding exceptional case attorneys’ fees, and “when a trial court denies attorney fees in spite of a finding of willful infringement, the court must explain why the case is not ‘exceptional.’”[1]  An express finding of willfulness is not an absolute prerequisite, however.  In Shine’s case, even though there had not been an explicit finding of willfulness in the order for default judgement, “most of the factors relevant to awarding enhanced damages—including those related to willfulness—weighed heavily against defendant.”[2]


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