Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Iottie Inc. v. Merkury Innovations

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

July 16, 2018

IOTTIE INC. and HSM CO., LTD., Plaintiffs,
v.
MERKURY INNOVATIONS, Defendant.

          OPINION

          KEVIN MCNULTY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I awarded summary judgment to defendant Merkury Innovations in this patent infringement case. Now before the court is Merkury's motion for an award of attorney's fees pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 285. (ECF No. 94). For the reasons expressed herein, I do not find the case to be exceptional, and die motion is therefore denied.

         The relevant statute, 35 U.S.C. § 285, permits an award of attorney's fees to the prevailing party in a patent case that is "exceptional." An exceptional case is one "that stands out from others with respect to the substantive strength of a party's litigating position (considering both the governing law and the facts of the case) or the unreasonable manner in which the case was litigated." Octane Fitness, LLC v. ICON Health & Fitness, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 1749, 1756 (2014). The issue calls for an exercise of the court's discretion, based on the totality of the circumstances of the individual case. Factors to be considered include "frivolousness, motivation, objective unreasonableness ... and the need in particular circumstances to advance considerations of compensation and deterrence." Id. at 1756 n.6.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         As I write solely for the parties, familiarity with the history of the matter is assumed.

         This case was filed in September 2015. (ECF No. 1). On December 22, 2015, iOttie moved for entry of default, which was granted. (ECF No. 9). Merkury moved to vacate the clerk's entry of default. (ECF No. 11). That motion was granted on February 23, 2016. (ECF No. 12).

         Merkury filed for summary judgment on June 23, 2017. (ECF No. 65). Merkury and iOttie submitted an amended joint claim construction and prehearing statement on November 7, 2017. (ECF No. 87). On December 29, 2017, I issued an opinion and order granting Merkury's motion for summary judgment. (ECF Nos. 92, 93). On January 26, 2018, Merkury filed the motion for attorney's fees that is now before the Courty. (ECF No. 94).

         II. DISCUSSION

         Merkury argues that iOttie's claim-construction arguments were frivolous and unreasonable, and also that iOttie's litigation conduct led to unnecessary costs. Merkury seeks an award of attorney's fees on these grounds.

         A. Claim Construction

         Under the totality of the circumstances, iOttie's proposed claim-construction arguments were not so unreasonable as to necessitate an award of attorney's fees. At the summary judgment stage, iOttie proposed that the term "for fixing or moving" should be construed as:

[A] knob and hole (or structure which is an insubstantial change from a knob and hole) which provides for fixing a bracket in place if force applied is not sufficient to overcome friction sufficient to overcome friction force holding the bracket, and which also enables moving a bracket if the force applied is sufficient to overcome friction force holding the bracket.

iOttie Inc. v. Merkury Innovations, No. 15-cv-6597, 2017 WL 6643834, at *8 (D.N.J. Dec. 29, 2017). I found that this proposed construction did not arise from the "ordinary and customary meaning" of the phrase "for fixing or moving." Id. at *9. I thus adopted Merkury's proposed construction-i.e., "for fastening into place or allowing to be moved." Id. This proposed construction was not so frivolous or objectively unreasonable to compel the imposition of attorney's fees. And even when I adopted Merkury's proposed claim construction, iOttie raised genuine, colorable issues on two of the three prongs of the function-way-result test. Id. at *11-13. This suggests that iOttie's position was no so unreasonable to be deemed frivolous.

         I saw no evidence of untoward motive, apart from iOttie's general motivation to obtain an award of damages. Nor is there a showing of bad faith or intent to harass. Declining to impose attorney's fees here would not likely embolden others or embolden iOttie to continue this litigation. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.