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Arctic Cat Inc. v. Bombardier Recreational Products Inc.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

July 19, 2018

ARCTIC CAT INC., Plaintiff,
v.
BOMBARDIER RECREATIONAL PRODUCTS, INC. and BRP U.S. INC., Defendants.

          Aaron A. Myers and Niall A. MacLeod, KUTAK ROCK LLP, for plaintiff.

          Harry C. Marcus, Joseph Farco, and Robert K. Goethals, LOCKE LORD LLP, Kevin D. Conneely and Ruth A. Rivard, STINSON LEONARD STREET LLP, for defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR ATTORNEY FEES

          JOHN R. TUNHEIM CHIEF JUDGE

         Arctic Cat Inc. brought this patent-infringement action against Bombardier Recreational Products, Inc. (“BRP”), alleging that BRP's snowmobile engines infringe several of Arctic Cat's patents related to engine ignition-timing systems. BRP prevailed and now moves for an award of attorney fees. Because this case was not exceptional, the Court will deny BRP's motion.

         BACKGROUND

         This patent case involved ignition-timing systems in snowmobile engines. Arctic Cat filed this patent-infringement action against BRP, alleging that certain BRP snowmobile engines (the “Accused Products”) infringed five of Arctic Cat's patents: U.S. Patent No. 6, 951, 203 (“the '203 Patent”), U.S. Patent No. 7, 258, 107 (“the '107 Patent”), U.S. Patent No. 6, 237, 566 (“the '566 Patent”), U.S. Patent No. 6, 371, 082 (“the '082 Patent”), and U.S. Patent No. 6, 550, 450 (“the '450 Patent”) (collectively “the Patents-in-Suit”). (Compl. ¶¶ 11-16, 18-42, Oct. 19, 2012, Docket No. 1.)

         BRP prevailed. The parties settled all disputes related to the '203 Patent. (Stip. of Dismissal, Jan. 20, 2015, Docket No. 211; Order, Oct. 16, 2017, Docket No. 435.) The Court held all asserted claims of the '107 Patent invalid as indefinite under 35 U.S.C. § 112. Arctic Cat Inc. v. Bombardier Recreational Prod. Inc. (Arctic Cat I), No. 12-2692, 2016 WL 6832623, at *17 (D. Minn. Nov. 18, 2016).[1] And the Court granted BRP summary judgment of noninfringement of all asserted claims of the '566 Patent, the '082 Patent, and the '450 Patent. Arctic Cat, Inc. v. Bombardier Recreational Prod. Inc. (Arctic Cat II), No. 12-2692, 2018 WL 654218, at *11 (D. Minn. Jan. 2, 2018).[2] Arctic Cat did not appeal.

         BRP now moves for an award of approximately $2.9 million in “attorney fees, expert witness fees, and expenses.” (Defs.' Mem. in Supp. at 3, Jan. 17, 2018, Docket No. 440.) Because this case does not stand out from others with respect to the substantive strength of Arctic Cat's litigating position or the manner in which the case was litigated, the Court will deny BRP's motion.

         DISCUSSION

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         In patent cases, a court may award “reasonable attorney fees” to the prevailing party when the case is “exceptional.” 35 U.S.C. § 285. “[A]n ‘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.” Octane Fitness, LLC v. ICON Health & Fitness, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 1749, 1756 (2014). The Court has discretion to award attorney fees on a case-by-case basis, considering the totality of the circumstances. Id. In assessing the totality of the circumstances, courts consider “frivolousness, motivation, objective unreasonableness (both in the factual and legal components of the case) and the need in particular circumstances to advance considerations of compensation and deterrence.” Id. at 1756 n.6 (quoting Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc., 510 U.S. 517, 534 n.19 (1994)).

         II. BRP'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEY FEES

         Considering the totality of the circumstances, neither the substantive strength of Arctic Cat's litigating position nor the manner in which the case was litigated support finding this case “exceptional” under § 285.

         A. ...


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