Moblize contended that TDE Petroleum Data Solutions, Inc ("TDE") either knew or should have known that its motion for preliminary injunction was meritless and that it was brought for the improper purpose of harassing Moblize. In its motion, Moblize asserted that "TDE's actions were plainly designed to increase the cost of litigation for Moblize, arguing that (1) TDE purposefully brought the case in an inconvenient forum, the Eastern District of Texas; (2) TDE issued a press release along with service of process in a calculated effort to harm Moblize and induce Moblize to settle; (3) TDE improperly relied on biased expert witnesses; and (4) TDE brought irrelevant third-party discovery to harass Moblize."
In response, TDE argued that it was an "ordinary case" brought to prevent Moblize from infringing its patent. TDE further asserted that its patent was presumptively valid, and the district court's ultimate finding that the patent lacked eligible subject matter does not make the case exceptional. TDE also argued that it did not litigate the case in an unreasonable manner as it thoroughly investigated the case before filing suit and in seeking a preliminary injunction, that it filed its lawsuit in a proper forum, that its press release was not unusual and it has a right to publicize its patent, that its experts qualify as experts and Moblize never challenged them during the litigation, and that Moblize's contention that the third-party discovery was irrelevant has no bearing on the "exceptional case" inquiry.
The district court agreed with TDE. "While the court ultimately dismissed the case, there were valid arguments to be addressed on both sides. With regard to the allegations that TDE conducted its case in an unreasonable manner, many of the allegations of harassment are simply examples of zealous representation, and none of the allegations amounts to conducting the case in such an unreasonable manner that fees are warranted."
As a result, the district court found that the case did not "stand out from other cases," and an award of fees was therefore unwarranted.
TDE Petroleum Data Solutions, Inc. v. AKM Enterprise, Inc., Case No. H-15-1821 (S.D. Tex. Dec. 10, 2015)
The authors of www.PatentLawyerBlog.com are patent trial lawyers at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. For more information about this case, contact Stan Gibson at 310.201.3548 or SGibson@jmbm.com.