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Raniere v. Microsoft Corp.

§ 285 Fee Award Upheld Following Dismissal With Prejudice for Lack of Standing

Raniere v. Microsoft Corp., __ F.3d __, 2018 WL ___ (Fed. Cir. Apr. 18, 2018) (Lourie, O’MALLEY, Wallach) (N.D. Tex.: Lynn) (2 of 5 stars)

Fed Cir affirms award of attorney fees and costs under § 285. The district court did not err in determining that Microsoft and its co-defendant AT&T Corp. were “prevailing parties” after they successfully obtained prejudicial dismissal of Mr. Raniere’s patent suit for lack of standing. Such a dismissal was “tantamount to a judgment on the merits.” Op. at 9. Even were it not, CRST Van Expedited, 136 S. Ct. 1642 (2016), confirmed that favorable judgment on the merits is not necessary for a defendant to be deemed a prevailing party for fee-shifting purposes. The opinion discusses a variety of precedent addressing each rationale. It reasons that CRST covers the situation of a defendant who succeeds on a jurisdictional issue, and is applicable to § 285 fee-shifting. And the fact that the dismissal here was with prejudice (due to a record of bad litigation conduct by Mr. Raniere) means that the dismissal was, in fact, a merits-based decision anyway. The opinion recites the district court’s findings as to Mr. Raniere’s conduct and concludes that the finding of exceptionality was not abuse of discretion.

KEYWORDS: ATTORNEYS’ FEES; EXCEPTIONALITY; STANDING; DISMISSAL WITH PREJUDICE