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Inventors of a rotatable binding for snowboards have sued Seyfarth Shaw, two lawyers and a small San Jose, Calif. law firm for $75 million, alleging negligence in prosecution of a patent claim against French firm Rossignol Ski Co. “When you engage an attorney you expect that they will perform the legal services they are retained to do,” said Justin T. Beck, who represents inventors Richard and Brant Berger. “You do not expect to lose your case on an error,” said Beck, a patent litigator with Beck, Ross, Bismonte & Finley in San Jose. The suit names former Seyfarth attorney Jack L. Slobodin and Douglas B. Allen, of Burnett, Burnett & Allen, in San Jose, as well as the firms. Seyfarth Shaw spokesman Mark Roy declined to comment on the litigation. He did say Slobodin left the firm in February. Slobodin, currently with Gordon Rees in San Francisco did not return a message seeking comment, nor did Allen. The suit, Berger v. Seyfarth Shaw, No. C07-5279PVT, alleges that a chart outlining the component parts where the Rossignol bindings allegedly infringed the two Berger patents contained an error that proved fatal to the 2005 patent case. In addition to an erroneous claim chart, the suit alleges the original infringement filing failed to include any claim chart or mention of a second patent, also allegedly infringed. Rossignol sought and won summary judgment in 2006 based in part on the errors. Early involvement? The suit also alleges that when questioned by the district judge about when he became involved in the suit, Slobodin “intentionally misled the court” to conceal their early involvement in the mistaken chart preparation. In a January 2007 appeal to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Slobodin was also asked how the errors occurred in the defective infringement claims and “Slobodin deceptively replied, ‘the attorney that was handling it before me did that for whatever reason I am not sure,’” according to the suit. Seyfarth Shaw billed $341,350 for legal work in the case, according to the suit. The Berger’s business is no longer in operation, according to Beck. The suit, initially filed last month in state court in Santa Clara County, was removed to federal court Oct. 17 by Allen.

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