$680,000 in Attorneys’ Fees Awarded in an “Exceptionally Weak” Patent Infringement Case

In Advanced Ground Information Systems, Inc. v. Life360, Case No. 14-cv-80651, (S.D. Fla. 2015), the Court awarded the prevailing Defendant, Life360, $684,190.00 in attorneys’ fees in an “exceptionally weak” patent case. A final judgment was entered on May 12, 2015 in favor of Life360.  The jury verdict found no infringement, however, the jury did not invalidate the Advanced Ground Information Systems, Inc. (“AGIS”) patent.  

    Life360 is a start up company in the area of family networking services that offers an app that shows markers on a map indicating where people are located and allowing communication between them.  AGIS sued Life360 for infringement of its patents.    

    The Court found that the case was “exceptional” under 35 U.S.C. §285, which allows the reasonable award of attorney fees to the prevailing party in exceptional cases.   The Court relied on Octane Fitness, LLC v. ICON Health & Fitness, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 1749, 1756 (2014), where the Supreme Court held that an ‘exceptional’ case is simply one that stands out from others with respect to the substantive strength of a party’s litigating position (considering both the governing law and the facts of the case) or the unreasonable manner in which the case was litigated.

    In particular, the Court found the case was exceptionally weak, especially with respect to the asserted method claims, which were the only claims remaining after claim construction.  The method claims were found to require steps that could only be performed by multiple users on different cell phones or by third party servers.  The jury found no infringement presumably relying on the principal that infringement of a method claim requires a single party perform each and every step of the claim, and inducement liability must be predicated on an act of direct infringement.  See Limelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Techs., Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2111 (2014).  Users of the Life360 app could not perform the asserted method claim because no user had control of other users in a circle.  

    The Court bolstered the award of fees by noting that the continued assertion of claims seemed designed to extract settlement not based upon the merits of the claim but the high cost of litigation.  The Court noted that the Parties never competed, never lost business to each other, and never heard of each other prior to the demand letter.  The Court ordered attorneys’ fees to Life360 beginning after November 21, 2014, the day upon which the Court issued a Markman Order holding system claims indefinite.  The award date is also after the June 2, 2014 issuance of the Supreme Court’s decision in Limelight Networks, confirming the single party impediment to the method claims.

    AGIS has filed a notice of appeal in this case.

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