Gauntlett & Associates Obtains Full Award of Attorneys’ Fees and Costs Incurred Against Claimant

On April 1, 2015 Judge James V. Selna of the United States District Court, Central District of California, Southern Division, entered an order on behalf of Defendant, Armano Luxury Alloys, Inc. (“Armano”) granting its motion for attorneys’ fees and costs pursuant to both 35 U.S.C. § 285 and 15 U.S.C. § 1117, awarding attorneys fees and costs against plaintiffs Dzinesquare, Inc. dba 2 Crave to Defendant Armano, whom Gauntlett & Associates represented in trade dress Lanham Act, trade dress lawsuit.  Attorneys’ fees were in the amount of $222,342.50 and non-taxable costs of $4,324.79.

A Minute Order issued concurrently explained that the suit for design patent and trade dress infringement with a number of distinct articulated claims had been improperly prosecuted by the Plaintiff in light of Octane Fitness, LLC v. ICON Health & Fitness, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 1749, 1756-57 (2014).  The court found the case to be exceptional so as to justify an award of fees and costs.

The court was persuaded even though no Ninth Circuit case or California federal district court had applied the logic of Octane Fitness — that the definition of “exceptional case” under Section 35(a) of the Lanham Act was satisfied, for the reasons in Fair Wind Sailing, Inc. v. Dempster, 764 F.3d 303, 314 (3rd Cir. 2014).

The on-sale bar, a public-use bar, precluded any recovery under the design patent, as printed publications embodying the essence of the `809 Patent pre-dated by more than one year, the application for that patent.

Similarly, the trade dress claims were not supported by any evidence that the claimant should have possessed independent of discovery before initiating suit.  The mere assertion of intentional copying of its design did not support an inference of secondary meaning nor did a “fall in sales” satisfy the applicable standard.

In awarding attorneys’ fees, the court determined that the hourly rate charge was well within the range of fees for such services.