A federal judge denied Toshiba Corp.’s motion for $2 million in exceptional case fees against St. Clair Intellectual Property Consultants and its attorneys at Niro, Haller & Niro in an infringement dispute over patents related to personal computers.

St. Clair filed suit against Acer Inc., Acer America Corp., Dell Inc., Gateway Cos. Inc. Gateway Inc., Lenovo Group Ltd, Lenovo (United States) Inc. on May 215, 2009 and against Apple Inc. and Toshiba Corp on September, 18, 2009. All the cases were filed in the U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Delaware.

In the case against Toshiba, St. Clair was represented by Ray Niro, a partner at Niro, Haller & Niro.

“While it is true that St. Clair did not present a strong case, and that its position appeared to be weaker in light of certain rulings in liming and at trial, the case for infringement was not so weak as to be ‘exceptional ‘ in the sense contemplated by 35 USC Section 285, nor does the record support a finding that the actions of its attorneys , Niro, Haller & Nitro were taken in bad faith. Therefore I will deny this motion,” said Judge Kent Jordan, of the U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Delaware.

While Judge Jordan said “it seems obvious" that St. Clair’s attorneys were aware of the weakness of their case, he said “nothing in the briefing or conduct that I witnessed during trial descended to a level that I would call bad faith or intentional misconduct on the part of St. Clair counsel, and sanctions under Section 1927 are not warranted on this record.”

Richard Horwitz, an attorney with Potter Anderson, which represented Toshiba couldn’t be reached for comment.

"Defendants now call every case frivolous and vexatious," said Niro in an email. "It's a disease that reasoned decisions like Circuit Judge Jordan's decision may help cure. I say shame on these giant companies and their lawyers for bringing unfounded motions for fees."

—To reach the reporter responsible for this story, please contact Dan Lonkevich
at 707 318-7899