Following the Federal Circuit’s affirmance of JMOL that the patent-in-suit was not infringed, Perrigo sought $90,637.02 in costs. Brigham and Women’s objected to virtually all of the requested costs and asserted that the case should be treated as a “mixed-result” case because Brigham “prevailed” on every issue save infringement (i.e., prevailed on standing, laches, invalidity, marking and damages). Judge Zobel rejected this argument, finding that Brigham had not prevailed on its sole claim of infringement and that, as a result, Perrigo was entitled to costs under F.R.C.P. 54(d). Judge Zobel did not award the full amount sought, however; she denied pro hac vice motion fees as not allowable in this district, denied costs associated with depositions that were not used in trial or in the post-trial briefing and denied all costs associated with videotaping or obtaining rough transcripts, finding these costs were not taxable absent prior permission. She also denied costs associated with the use of realtime transcripts, finding these to also not be “necessary” within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1920(2). Judge Zobel refused to award $35,298 in costs associated with the use of a graphic designer to prepare charts, figures and demonstratives used at trial, based on both the excess amount of time spent in their preparation and a lack of evidence supporting these costs. Finally, Brigham’s had, in its motion seeking refusal of the Bill of Costs, sought expert witness fees under F.R.C.P. 26(b)(4)(E), which generally requires a party seeking expert discovery to pay the expert for the time spent in responding. Judge Zobel noted that expert discovery had concluded three years earlier with neither party seeking fees, and denied the request as untimely. In total, she awarded $22,843.48 to Perrigo.
Judge Stearns denied Cisco’s motion for attorneys’ fees under § 285. Cisco asserted that the case became exceptional on August 17, 2016, when Egenera, in a parallel IPR proceeding, submitted a declaration from one of its employees stating that he had been erroneously named as an inventor. Egenera removed him as an inventor so that it could rely on an internal document that pre-dated his employment to swear behind a reference. The patent was subsequently invalidated for failure to name all inventors when Judge Stearns construed the claims and determined that the employee had made an inventive contribution. According to Cisco, Egenera at that point had thoroughly reviewed the inventorship issue and should have realized, at least as of the claim construction order, that the employee was improperly removed. While agreeing that Egenera’s investigation was “wanting,” Judge Stearns found that the survival of the inventorship dispute through summary judgment meant that the case did not rise to exceptional.
Cisco’s Bill of Costs was denied in part. He allowed costs related to professionally produced video deposition clips and trial demonstratives, noting that the prevalence of witness credibility issues necessitated their use, but found the requested amount of $60,341 for a three-day trial excessive by half. He further cut summons and subpoena costs to eliminate the excess fees charged for emergency or urgent service.
This is the second case I have seen in recent days in which exceptionality was tied to amenability to summary judgment – Judge Saylor denied a request for fees because the plaintiff had not sought summary judgment. I do not that the grant of summary judgment does not automatically result in a finding of exceptionality, however, and hope that this recent small trend does not become a de facto precedent for the award of attorneys’ fees, as I can envision cases that, while having issues of fact in dispute, still rise to the level of exceptionality, and would hate to see arguments to that effect precluded.
In 2018, Cynthia Foss, who does graphic design work as Hunter Foss Design filed a pro se complaint in state court against Spencer Brewery, St. Joseph Abbey, Ruggles Media, Northeastern University, Cup of Julie Show, and Big Eastern Exposition (known as the “Big E”), accusing each of copyright infringement, tortious interference with business relations, defamation and violation of 93A. Foss contends that she owns the copyright in graphic compositions that were commissioned by Spencer Brewery, located within St. Joseph’s Abbey, of a stained-glass wall found in the Abbey, with the composition to be displayed at Spencer Brewery’s exhibit room at the 2016 Big E. Foss asserted that Spencer modified the composition, displayed it in places not contemplated by the agreement between Foss and Spencer, and by using the composition in an electronic display continuously since 2016. Cup of Julie, a marketing business, and Ruggles Media, which is associated with Northeastern University. After the case was removed to federal court, Judge Hillman dismissed the state law claims with prejudice as against the Big E and Cup of Julie, and Foss filed an amended complaint alleging claims only for copyright infringement against the two. Subsequently, he granted motions to dismiss and for judgment on the pleadings, which Foss did not oppose – while the dismissal motion was pending, she instead filed a motion for default, apparently (and incorrectly) thinking that the motion to dismiss did not abrogate the need to answer the complaint. Following dismissal, the Big E filed a Bill of Costs under Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d) and 28 U.S.C. §1920, seeking $1835 in costs. Noting that he had discretion to refuse to award costs despite the presumption that costs be awarded, Judge Hillman denied request despite Foss having not filed a motion for disallowance, because four of the six categories of costs sought were plainly not recoverable under the statute. He found that the Bill of Costs was thus not filed in good faith, but instead evidenced punitive intent, and denied the bill in total.
Foss has filed two other pro se copyright cases in Massachusetts, one of which was dismissed for failure to timely serve or to timely seek an extension to serve (and which asserted claims that were time-barred, implausible and/or preempted); the second was dismissed for failure to state a claim when Foss failed to oppose the motion to dismiss, but Foss was successful in having the case reopened and is presently seeking a preliminary injunction.