02/09/16

Lumen View Technology, LLC. v. Findthebest.com, INC., No. 2015-1275, 1325 (Fed. Cir. 2016)


Written By: David Youngkin

Recently the Federal Circuit in Lumen View Technology LLC v. Findthebest.com, Inc. upheld the district courts finding of exceptionality.  However, the Federal Circuit found it was improper to double the awarded attorney fees. 

Lumen View is the exclusive license of U.S. Patent 8,069,073 (“the ‘073 patent”), which is directed to methods of facilitating bilateral and multilateral decision making.  Findthebest.com (“FTB”) operated a website that provided personalized product and service recommendations based on user inputted information.  Lumen View filed suit alleging that FTB infringed the claims of the ‘073 patent.

The district court held the claims of the ‘073 patent are directed to an abstract idea and therefore are invalid because they do not claim patent eligible subject matter.  FTB then moved for an award of attorney fees on grounds the case was exceptional under 35 U.S.C. § 285.  The district court determined the case was exceptional because the suit was frivolous and objectively unreasonable.  Furthermore the district court found that Lumen View’s motivation for filing suit was to extract a nuisance settlement from FTB.  Therefore the district court granted the motion for fees. 

The district court then decided to enhance the lodestar amount by a factor of two.  The decision to award enhanced damages was based on several factors which included the quick resolution of the case, the need to deter Lumen View’s predatory strategy, and the frivolous nature of the suit.  Lumen View then appealed.

The Federal Circuit held that the determination that a case is exceptional is at the discretion of the district court.  The Federal circuit found that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding the case exceptional under §285. 

The Federal Circuit then turned to the calculation of the attorney fee award.  In “rare” and “exceptional” cases a district court may enhance the lodestar amount based on factors not accounted for in the lodestar calculation.  The Federal Circuit found that the expedited nature of the case and deterrence are not appropriate factors to consider when awarding enhanced lodestar amounts.  The court vacated this portion of the decision and remanded for further consideration.
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