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Judge Thynge recommends granting renewed motion for attorneys’ fees

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In a recent Report and Recommendation, Chief Magistrate Judge Mary P. Thynge granted defendants’ renewed motion for attorneys’ fees. Magnetar Technologies, Corp. v. Six Flags Theme Parks, Inc., C.A. No. 07-127-LPS-MPT (D. Del. Mar. 13, 2017). Previously, on July 21, 2015, Judge Thynge issued a Report and Recommendation finding that, in view of the totality of the circumstances, the case was exceptional based on plaintiffs’ objectively unreasonable position on inventorship of U.S. Patent No.  5,277,125 (“the ‘125 patent”) and plaintiffs’ reliance on Mark T. Hanlon’s expert report with respect to infringement of the ‘125 patent. On September 30, 2015, having considered plaintiffs’ objections to that Report and Recommendation and defendants’ subsequent response, Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark returned the issue of attorneys’ fees to Judge Thynge for additional findings.  On November 31, 2015, defendants filed the instant renewed motion for attorneys’ fees. See id. at 6.

In granting the renewed motion, Judge Thynge first reaffirmed the court’s conclusion “that plaintiffs’ position on the issue of inventorship was objectively unreasonable and defendants are entitled to fees incurred following the depositions in late July 2011” that demonstrated incorrect inventorship. Id. at 17-18. Judge Thynge also reaffirmed the court’s conclusion that plaintiffs’ reliance on Hanlon’s expert report was objectively unreasonable. Id. at 19.

Judge Thynge further found that attorneys’ fees in this action were “warranted to deter parties from continuing to maintain claims based on objectively unreasonable positions,” and “to compensate the defendants in this case for the expenses in defending claims that should not have been maintained.” Id. at 29. As Judge Thynge explained, “[p]laintiffs’ continued litigation of the ‘125 patent after the Chung and Staehs depositions revealed the inventorship issue with that patent improperly increased defendants’ litigation expenses by forcing them to continue to defend against the infringement claim and pursuing a ruling that the patent was invalid.” Id. at 29-30.

Judge Thynge also determined that “defendants are entitled to all of their fees and expenses related to the ‘125 patent from August 2011” (i.e., the time when deposition testimony revealed the inventorship issue) “through the end of the case.” Id. at 32. As Judge Thynge explained, “defendants would have incurred none of those fees and expenses had plaintiffs not acted objectively unreasonably in continuing to assert the ‘125 patent after the inventorship issue became apparent.” Id.

Magnetar Technologies, Corp. v. Six Flags Theme Parks, Inc., C.A. No. 07-127-LPS-MPT (D. Del. Mar. 13, 2017)

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