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Fed. Circ. Affirms Attys’ $200K Sanction In Patent Case

Two law partners were hit with a $200,000 sanction over their client’s deposition testimony in a patent infringement case against Citrix Inc.

In a one-line order, a three-judge panel affirmed the $200,000 in sanctions U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch ordered attorneys David Fink and Timothy Johnson pay Citrix in September. In his ruling, Judge Zloch held that the two law partners and their client, had acted “unreasonably and vexatiously” and multiplied the proceedings.

The issues boiled down to the client’s deposition testimony in 2002, which Citrix alleged Fink and Johnson, of Houston-based Fink & Johnson, knew was false and unnecessarily extended the proceedings. The sanctions award was a “reasonable approximation” of the money Citrix spent as a result of their conduct.

The client initially filed a lawsuit in 2002 accusing various Citrix products of infringing two of his patents.  When he was subsequently deposed, the client testified, that he couldn’t name a single Citrix product and authorized the filing of the lawsuit without knowing whether Citrix had actually infringed his patents.

Citrix said Fink later conceded that the client’s deposition testimony was false and that he had discussed Citrix and a prefiling investigation with the client before filing the complaint.

Citrix attorney Timothy Rousseau of Goodwin Procter LLP stated that if the testimony had been corrected immediately, as opposed to seven months later, the lawsuit would have been in a very different place. At least, he said, the company would have known that a prefiling investigation had been done.

Instead, he said Citrix pursued frivolous discovery and court motions to get to the bottom of a deposition from the client that seemingly offered no reason for the suit.

“This was all part of Citrix trying to find out why the suit was filed,” he said. “We were rebuffed by a false answer and had to pursue further proceedings.”

For more information, see Law360.



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