closeup photo of dollar bills background
closeup photo of dollar bills background (DimaSobko)

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple won’t get to cap off the first round of its patent battle with Samsung with an award of attorney fees if the South Korean company has anything to say about it.

In papers filed Thursday evening, Samsung slammed Apple’s request for $15.7 million to cover a portion of its bill to Morrison & Foerster. With the case headed for an appeal, Samsung’s lawyers at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan insisted that it is too soon for U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh to dole out attorney fees. Moreover, Quinn Emanuel argued, Apple’s claims fall far short of the standard set by the Lanham Act, which allows companies that prevail on trademark and trade dress claims to recoup attorney fees in “exceptional cases.”

“None of the evidence Apple relies on reflects the type of deliberate, intentional deception, bad faith, or malicious conduct necessary to support a finding of exceptional circumstances,” Quinn Emanuel partner Victoria Maroulis wrote in Samsung’s opposition.

Moving for attorney fees in December, MoFo partner Rachel Krevans wrote that Samsung must pay up because it systematically copied the iPhone and a 2012 jury deemed the infringement willful.

Quinn Emanuel stressed that the jury’s finding of willfulness was not enough to meet the high bar for attorney fees set by the Lanham Act.

All told, Apple shelled out more than $60 million in legal fees to bring its claims against Samsung, Krevans wrote. The attorney fees sought by Apple represent a third of the $47 million MoFo billed on the case until March 1, when the firm began preparing for the parties’ damages retrial.

Krevans described the request as “eminently reasonable.” But Samsung stressed that the proposal must be considered in light of Apple’s track record on its claims under the Lanham Act, which are the basis for the attorney fee request. After dropping many of its trademark and trade dress claims before trial, Apple prevailed on just 14 of the 573 liability issues it raised in the case, Samsung argued.

“Apple’s one-third allocation is unreasonable in light of Apple’s minimal success,” Maroulis wrote.

Without billing records or summaries of attorney hours, Apple’s motion contained far too little documentation to justify a hefty award of attorney fees, Samsung argued. Scrutinizing a declaration submitted by MoFo partner Michael Jacobs, Maroulis claimed the firm did not even document which attorneys actually defended depositions.

“Apple’s supporting declarations demonstrate why courts are not allowed to award hundreds, much less millions, of dollars in attorneys’ fees just based on the moving party’s say so,” Maroulis wrote.

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