Apple Wants Samsung to Pay Part of MoFo's $60 Million Bill
After two jury trials and counting, Apple's hard-fought patent spat with Samsung has yielded about $930 million in damages for Apple and a handsome $60 million in fees for its lawyers at Morrison & Foerster.
The typically cagey company has offered a glimpse into its books as it fights to get Samsung on the hook for a portion of its attorney fees. In a motion filed Thursday evening, Apple lawyer Rachel Krevans of Morrison & Foerster told U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose that Samsung should have to fork over $15.7 million to compensate Apple. The Cupertino-based company is entitled to that "eminently reasonable" award for attorney fees because Samsung strategically copied the iPhone and a 2012 jury found that the infringement was willful, Krevans argued.
"Given Samsung's blatant disregard of Apple's IP rights, Apple should not be forced to bear the full expense of prosecuting its claims," she wrote.
Apple made its request under the Lanham Act, which allows companies that prevail on trademark and trade dress claims to recover attorney fees in "exceptional cases." To show how Apple's case fit that bill, Krevans recounted the well-worn evidence of how Samsung overhauled its strategy to roll out products that could match Apple's iconic devices.
"Under any measure, this was an exceptional case," she wrote.
Apple has rung up more than $60 million in legal fees prosecuting its claims against Samsung, Krevans wrote. The $15.7 million award Apple has requested from the South Korean company represents one-third of the $47 million that MoFo lawyers billed on the case through March 1, when their focus shifted to the damages retrial, she added.
Koh ordered the retrial that month after determining that a sizeable chunk of the original $1.05 billion verdict was calculated using an improper notice date. A San Jose jury awarded more than $290 million in damages late last month.
The attorney fees requested are justified by Apple's success on Lanham Act claims, which were central to the case as a whole, Krevans argued.
"The work Apple's counsel performed relating to designs was necessary to prosecute Apple's claims to all of those types of intellectual property," she wrote in the declaration.
Apple's bid for attorney fees pulls the curtain back on the legal army the company assembled to wage what some have called the IP trials of the century. In a declaration accompanying the motion, MoFo partner Michael Jacobs rattled off the names of 91 partners, of counsel, associates and paralegals at the firm who billed at least $100,000 on the case. Attorneys and staff who billed less than that were not included in Samsung's bill, he wrote.
Eight lawyers at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, who joined MoFo on the case, chipped in 3,349 hours of work on the damages retrial, Wilmer Hale partner Mark Selwyn wrote in a declaration. Apple will pay them $2.3 million for that work, counting only lawyers and staff who billed more than $100,000 on the case, he added.
Apple also seeks to recover $6.25 million in costs from Samsung, including more than $811,000 for transcripts, more than $5.1 million for exemplification and copies and more than $297,000 for interpreters, according to a bill of costs filed Thursday evening.
Apple lawyers redacted information about their billing rates from Thursday's filings. But a May 2012 court filing put the median partner rate at $582 and the median associate rate at $398.
MoFo went to great lengths to keep Apple's bill down, excluding time spent on case administration and getting new lawyers up to speed on the case, Jacobs wrote.
"Apple is a long-standing client of Morrison & Foerster," he wrote. "For this reason and because this matter was a very substantial undertaking, Apple received a significant discount from the firm's standard rates."
Jacobs suggested that the rates were especially reasonable when measured against those paid by Apple's arch enemy. He pointed to filings indicating that Samsung's lawyers at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan charged an average rate of $821 for partners and $448 for associates working on the case.
"Samsung paid higher rates to its counsel than Apple paid to its counsel with comparable experience," he wrote.