Saying West Publishing Co.’s conduct in defending itself on a copyright case brought by competitor Hyperlaw Inc. was “frivolous,” a Southern District judge has ordered the legal publisher to pay its competitor $813,724 in attorneys’ fees.

Judge John S. Martin Jr., sharply criticized West for “asserting a copyright in a work consisting predominantly of the work of government agencies”: the federal courts. He said in Hyperlaw Inc. v. West Publishing Co., 94 Civ. 589, that Hyperlaw earned the fees because their lawsuit “vindicated the public interest in the wide dissemination of federal judicial opinions.”

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