Case Law

Court Orders Inclusion of Technology Specialist Fees in Award Calculation

New Mexico

Gen. Protecht Grp., Inc. v. Leviton Mfg. Co., 2015 WL 4988635 (D.N.M. Aug. 3, 2015) In this patent infringement case, the defendant alleged that the plaintiffs had infringed upon the defendant’s specialized patents, while the plaintiffs alleged that the defendant had committed infringement. In addition, the plaintiffs argued that the defendant’s claim was baseless because the defendant knew that its argument was flawed, as it did not have any “well-established law regarding implied licenses” to support the claim. The court found that the defendant’s claim was not baseless, as the standard for a baseless claim is when “no reasonable litigant could reasonably expect success on the merits.” The lower court ultimately found for the plaintiffs, but the cost of recoverable attorney’s fees should include paralegal and technical specialist fees involved in the case. On that issue, the judge agreed with the plaintiffs, stating that “while technology specialists' duties are not strictly legal in the traditional sense, the court believes that these technicians provide meaningful value to law firms and, ultimately, clients during litigation; those contributions should not go overlooked.” The court therefore included technology specialist fees in its calculation of attorneys' fees, subject to the same restrictions placed on other attorney’s fees—that the technology specialists’ work pertained to the lawsuit at hand, and the hours were reasonable. However, ultimately the judge did not agree to adjust the lodestar fee amount in favor of the plaintiffs as he felt the overall success of the plaintiffs’ success did not warrant a sufficient amount to see an increase in award fees.

Keywords: costs, experts, computer forensics