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Prism Technologies, LLC v. Mcafee

February 13, 2013

PRISM TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MCAFEE, INC.; SYMANTEC
CORPORATION; AND TREND MICRO INCORPORATED, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lyle E. Strom, Senior Judge United States District Court

MEMORANDUM OPINION

In this case, plaintiff Prism Technologies, LLC ("Prism") alleged infringement of its patent, U.S. Patent No. 7,290,288 ("'288 patent"), by defendants McAfee, Inc. ("McAfee"), Symantec Corporation ("Symantec"), and Trend Micro Incorporated ("Trend Micro"). On December 10, 2012, the Court entered summary judgment of noninfringement in favor of defendants, awarding them taxable costs (Filing No. 1135). Defendants then moved for attorney fees and nontaxable costs under 35 U.S.C. § 285 (Filing No. 1137). Subsequently, Prism filed a notice of appeal of the summary judgment to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Filing No. 1143).

This matter is now before the Court on two motions by Prism: a motion to stay consideration of defendants' motion for attorney fees (Filing No. 1146), and a motion to stay defendants' applications for taxable costs (Filing No. 1158). Defendants filed a brief in opposition to Prism's motions to stay (Filing No. 1165). After consideration of the motions, the briefs, and the relevant law, the Court finds that Prism's motions to stay should be denied.

Also before the Court is defendants' motion for attorney fees and nontaxable costs under 35 U.S.C. § 285 (Filing No. 1137, with brief and indices of evidence, Filing Nos. 1141, 1138, and 1140). Prism filed a brief in opposition to the motion (Filing No. 1148, with indices of evidence, Filing Nos. 1149 and 1150), to which defendants replied (Filing No. 1162, with indices of evidence, Filing Nos. 1160 and 1161). After consideration of the motion, the briefs, and the relevant law, the Court finds that defendants' motion for attorney fees and nontaxable expenses should be denied.

I. Prism's Motions to Stay.

Prism makes substantially the same arguments in its motion to stay consideration of defendants' motion for attorney fees and in its motion to stay defendants' applications for taxable costs. First, Prism argues that the Court and the parties "will needlessly expend time and resources" on defendants' motion and applications for taxable costs "if Prism's appeal is granted by the Federal Circuit" (Filing No. 1146, at 2). Second, Prism argues that even if its appeal is denied, "the Federal Circuit may make commentary rulings on issues relating to the Court's order on summary judgment" which could be relevant to the Court's ruling on defendants' submissions for attorney fees and costs (Id.).

Prism's third argument, however, underscores the inherent problem with granting a stay. Prism states that "if Prism's appeal is denied, the Court would be in the same position at that future time as it is now to determine" defendants' motion and applications for taxable costs (Id.). The Court must disagree. As written in the Advisory Committee Notes to the 1993 Amendments to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54,

In many non-jury cases the court will want to consider attorneys' fee issues immediately after rendering its judgment on the merits of the case. . . . Prompt filing [of a claim for attorney fees] affords an opportunity for the court to resolve fee disputes shortly after trial [in this case, summary judgment], while the services performed are freshly in mind. It also enables the court in appropriate circumstances to make its ruling on a fee request in time for any appellate review of a dispute over fees to proceed at the same time as review on the merits of the case.

Prism has not provided any reason particular to this case as to why the Court should not follow this sage advice, other than the general argument cited above. But as defendants point out, "[T]hat argument exists in every case where an appeal is taken[,] and the standard practice in such cases is to decide fee and cost issues without delay" (Filing No. 1165, at 3).

This Court agrees with the District Court of the Northern District of Iowa, as it analyzed a motion to stay assessment of taxable costs:

No clear standard has developed to guide district courts in the exercise of their discretion in deciding whether or not to stay the taxation of costs pending appeal, but the consensus seems to be that the court must have some valid reason for not awarding costs at the customary stage of the proceedings.

Maytag Corp. v. Electrolux Home Prods., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89383, at *5 (N.D. Iowa Dec. 11, 2006). "The possibility that the underlying judgment might be reversed, with the result that the award of costs must also be reversed, is simply too speculative to outweigh the benefit of the trial court conducting a review of the bill of costs while the case is still fresh."

Id. at *7. For the foregoing reasons, the Court will deny ...


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