In an action that electronic discovery experts say may signal a sea change in how legal costs are apportioned after trial, a federal judge in Atlanta has ordered the losing company in a patent infringement action to pay more than $268,000 in costs to its opponents for the services of a computer consultant hired to fulfill broad discovery demands.

In a Dec. 30 order, U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash Jr. derided the patent infringement case that Cordele, Ga.-based software company CBT Flint Partners filed in 2007 against California company Cisco IronPort Systems (part of technology giant Cisco Systems) as well as the tactics of CBT’s counsel at Atlanta’s King & Spalding.

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