Tim CookSource: Apple

What you need to know

  • Apple has been awarded $2.3M in legal fees in a California court case.
  • Apple and Cisco were sued over alleged patent infringements relating to point-to-point internet communications.
  • The judge said that the case "should never have been brought."

Apple and Cisco have both been awarded substantial legal fees by a judge after a California federal court ruled a case against them should never have been brought.

As Bloomberg Law reports:

Apple Inc. was awarded over $2.3 million and Cisco Systems Inc. over $1.9 million in attorneys' fees in California federal court for defending against a patent infringement suit that the court said should "never have been brought."

Straight Path IP Group Inc. sued Apple, Cisco, and others for allegedly infringing four patents related to point-to-point internet communication. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board invalidated the relevant parts of the patents, but the Federal Circuit reversed, finding the PTAB had construed a patent term too broadly. The PTAB upheld the patents' validity on remand under the narrower construction, and the Federal Circuit affirmed.

Apparently, after the PTAB's ruling, Straight Path sued Apple again. Inexplicably, however, after arguing twice to a Federal court that the patents in question should be interpreted narrowly, Straight Path sued both Apple and Cisco on the basis of the earlier broad interpretation. Straight Path was ordered to pay the mammoth legal fees in part because of its contradictory arguments. When Straight Path protested the fees, the court was having none of it:

The court affirmed a special master's $4.2 million attorneys' fee recommendation. Straight Path argued the special master wrongly recommended that Apple and Cisco be reimbursed for defenses that didn't specifically address the interpretation issue.

But the court disagreed because Straight Path's "exceptional claims were the but for cause of those fees." Apple and Cisco "were entitled to mount a comprehensive defense" against "claims that (again) should not have been brought," the court said.

"What goes around comes around, and not always in expected ways," the court said.

Judge William Alsup concluded that the suits "should never have been brought" before the court.