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What would cause the respected management of a major US corporation to authorise litigation that would probably cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars in attorneys’ fees alone? Especially where the litigation involved a fight over something intangible.
The answer to this question can be found in Apple’s 2011 decision to commence a highly complex patent infringement litigation against Samsung. The magnitude of the attorneys’ fees went on to be matched by Samsung, which would decide not only to defend against Apple’s patent claims but also to assert its own claims of patent infringement against Apple.
This war of the titans lasted seven years and became a lawyer’s dream. Quite apart from the hundreds of millions in attorneys’ fees that were incurred by each side, there were out of pocket costs and disbursements, court fees, non-testifying expert fees, testifying expert witness fees, court reporter fees, research costs, printing fees, costs associated with the travel of attorneys and witnesses, and other costs too numerous to name here.
Of course, this case is not the only high-stakes litigation to fill the pockets of attorneys with extraordinary attorneys’ fees. Remember the long-running patent battle between Kodak and Polaroid, where in 1990 Polaroid won more than $900 million from Kodak as well as an ultimate permanent injunction against Kodak’s foray into instant photography. There were months during this litigation when at least one of the companies was billed more than $10 million by counsel.
Apple, Samsung, Paul J Sutton, jurisdiction report, patent litigation, design patent, mobile devices, damages