Lodestar Presumptively Is Reasonable Amount Of Fees: : In any federal fee-shifting statute, “there is a ‘strong presumption’ that the lodestar figure represents a ‘reasonable” attorney fee,’” and may be adjusted upwards or downwards only in “rare” and “exceptional” cases and not based on any factor (such as “the amounts involved and the results obtained,” level of skill involved, quality of performance, and existence of contingent fee agreement) that could have been considered in the lodestar calculation. Bywaters (Fed. Cir. 03/01/12); Perdue (U.S. 04/21/2010). Lodestar is reasonable hourly rates times reasonable amount of hours worked on comparable case. Determination of the amount of fees cannot be based on deterrence or punitive purpose. Lumen View (Fed. Cir. 01/22/16) (vacating doubling of lodestar for insufficient analysis; few situations where deviation from lodestar is permitted); cf.Large Audience (Fed. Cir. 10/20/16) (non-precedential) (explaining lodestar and flagging unreasonable billings by partners).
Amounts Involved, Quality Of Performance, And Results Obtained May Affect What Fees Were Reasonable: “It is axiomatic that attorneys almost inevitably consider the amount involved in a particular case when determining a reasonable number of hours to expend on any given issue or when allocating personnel resources based upon the expertise or experience required.” Bywaters (Fed. Cir. 03/01/12). Cf.Hitkansut (Fed. Cir. 05/01/20) (successful patent infringement plaintiff obtaining lower damages than sought is not the type of “limited success” that would justify lowering award of fees, in a Sec. 1498 action).
Forum Billing Rates Generally Govern, With Some Exceptions: In a lodestar calculation, “forum rates should be used to calculate attorneys’ fee awards under other fee-shifting statutes,” one exception being “where local counsel is either unwilling or unable to take the case,” which “is applicable only in unusual situations” “where supported by specific evidence that no local attorneys possess the ‘special expertise’ necessary to take the case or that no local attorneys were willing to take the case.” Bywaters (Fed. Cir. 03/01/12).
Awards Under Inherent Authority To Sanction Bad Faith Conduct, Are Limited To Fees Incurred Due To That Conduct: Courts have inherent power to award fees “when a party has acted in bad faith, vexatiously, wantonly, or for oppressive reasons.” Aruuachalam (Fed. Cir. 03/01/21) (aff’g award of fees). “A district court may rely on its inherent equitable powers to award attorneys’ fees even if there is a statutory provision creating an alternative vehicle.” Realtime Adaptive (Fed. Cir. 07/27/22) (aff’g award of fees when plaintiff sued in Del., dismissed after Mag. Jud. recommended patents invalid under Sec. 101, then immediately sued in Cal., and quickly dismissed again). When exercising “a federal court’s inherent authority to sanction a litigant for bad-faith conduct by ordering it to pay the other side’s legal fees,” “such an order is limited to the fees the innocent party … would not have incurred but for the bad faith.” Goodyear Tire (U.S. 04/18/2017); cf.Level 3 (Fed. Cir. 01/30/18) (non-precedential) (reversing sanctions order; “‘[w]ithout a finding of fraud or bad faith whereby the ‘very temple of justice has been defiled,’ a court enjoys no discretion to employ inherent powers to impose sanctions’”).
Deferential Review Of Amount Of Fees Awarded: District court has the “discretion to determine the amount of a fee award”; declining to examine “minutia” of fee award. Icon Health (Fed. Cir. 08/25/17) (non-precedential).
Sometimes Can Recover Fees From Parallel PTO Or ITC Proceeding: At least where PTO proceeding in effect substitutes for district court litigation, the prevailing party may recover fees expended in the PTO proceeding. PPG Indus. (Fed. Cir. 03/03/88) (over defendant’s objection, action stayed pending contested reissue proceeding with plaintiff agreeing to be bound by result; defendant then prevailed in that proceeding); seeMonolithic Power (Fed. Cir. 08/13/13) (aff’g award of fees incurred in parallel ITC proceeding where district court had ordered that discovery in ITC could be used in district court action). But seeDragon (Fed. Cir. 04/21/20) (dictum: “Though we see no basis in the Patent Act for awarding fees under § 285 for work incurred in inter partes review proceedings that the Appellants voluntarily undertook … .”)
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