The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California has granted Universal Remote Control’s (URC) request for attorneys fees in a pending patent infringement action filed by Universal Electronics (UEI).
This litigation began in March, 2012 when UEI accused URC of infringing on four of its patents. Over the course of the proceedings, which concluded with a jury trial and verdict in URC’s favor on all issues tried, all of the claims that had been asserted against URC were dismissed on multiple grounds.
For example, the court invalidated one patent before trial, and the jury ruled for URC on two of the remaining patents in suit on invalidity grounds. The fourth patent, in addition to being declared unenforceable by the court, was invalidated by the Patent Office in an Inter Partes review. The net result is that all four UEI patents have now been held invalid. Following the trial, URC asked the court to declare the case exceptional and award URC its attorneys fees for its successful defense.
On March 10, 2015, after briefing, the court found in URC’s favor and granted URC’s fee request for those patent claims found exceptional, first finding that the litigation was motivated at least in part by UEI’s desire for “payback” for URC’s successful competition in the marketplace.
The court further found that UEI’s failure to conduct an adequate pre-suit investigation led to “a waste of resources” with respect to one of the asserted patents. For another patent, the court found that UEI could not corroborate the inventive contribution of an alleged inventor improperly added to the patent during the litigation, which UEI did not disclose to the court at the time, and instead was brought to the court’s attention by URC’s own investigations. In addition, the court pointed out that UEI had engaged in “gamesmanship” and acts of misconduct during discovery concerning these two patents. Having so found, the court agreed with URC and awarded URC its attorney fees in defending against UEI’s patent claims.