The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of a $1 billion patent suit against Qualcomm brought by Gabriel Technologies Corp.
The case involved the use of GPS technology in pagers. Gabriel alleged that Qualcomm had infringed Gabriel’s patents and that Qualcomm had invented the technology for which Qualcomm was issued patents.
The district court found that Gabriel failed to present any evidence that Gabriel’s employees contributed to Qualcomm’s patents.
The Court of Appeals also affirmed the district court’s order that Gabriel must pay Qualcomm $12.4 million in sanctions for bringing a baseless suit with “obvious shortcomings.” The sanctions are intended to cover Qualcomm’s attorney’s fees.
Since Gabriel is in bankruptcy, Qualcomm will have to work with the Bankruptcy Court to collect the award.
It is unusual for a party to be ordered to pay the other side’s attorney’s fees in patent litigation. As we previously discussed, the US Supreme court is reviewing cases involving the standards for awarding attorney’s fees in patent cases.
In Qualcomm, the Court of Appeals noted that in many cases it is hard to find evidence that a party acted in subjective bad faith in bringing a case. However, said the court, “The record contains emails demonstrating that the Gabriel plaintiffs maintained their suit long after they recognized that their claims were without merit.”
For example, the court referred to an email in which one Gabriel executive reported to another the difficulty the company was having finding a law firm to take its case.
“They won’t touch this case because we have no case. Just a lot of talk,” said the email.
If you anticipate being involved in patent litigation, contact our office to arrange a free initial consultation with one of our patent attorneys.
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Photo Attribution: “Qualcom headquarters in San Diego.” By Coolcaesar is licensed under CC BY 3.0