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Partners For Health and Home, L.P v. Seung Wee Yang

September 28, 2012

PARTNERS FOR HEALTH AND HOME, L.P., PLAINTIFF,
v.
SEUNG WEE YANG, ETC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ralph Zarefsky United States Magistrate Judge

O

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S APPLICATION FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES AND COSTS

BACKGROUND

1. The facts relating to this case, including the substantive liability of defendant Yang, are set forth in detail in the Undisputed Facts and Conclusions of Law [113] entered October 28, 2011 and in the Undisputed Facts and Conclusions of Law [138] entered March 30, 2012.

2. The Court previously entered default against the corporate defendants. (Order Granting Plaintiff's Motion for Entry of Default Judgment against the corporate defendants [145].) The Court also found that the corporate defendants were, for all purposes material to this lawsuit, inseparable from Defendant Yang, with Yang operating the corporate defendants using the same contact information and promoting the sale of the infringing products. (Id. at 1.)

3. In its Conclusions of Law [113] addressing the issues of liability, the Court granted summary judgment against Yang on all substantive counts I-IV asserted in the First Amended Complaint. ([113], Conclusion of Law Nos. 12, 13, 30, 34, 35 and 37.)

4. In its Conclusions of Law [138] addressing the issues of damages, willfulness, and attorney fees, the Court ruled as follows:

a. With respect to Count I (Trademark Infringement under 15 U.S.C. § 1114(1)) and Count IV (False Designation of Origin and False Advertising under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)), the Court found that Defendant Seung Wee Yang had willfully infringed Plaintiff's Perma-Life trademark and that the case was therefore exceptional, and awarded Plaintiff its reasonable attorney fees. (Id. at Conclusions of Law Nos. 11-14.)

b. With respect to Count II (Trademark Counterfeiting under 15 U.S.C. § 1114(1)), the Court found that Yang's counterfeiting was willful, and awarded $10,000 on that count. (Id. at Conclusions of Law Nos. 16-17.)

c. With respect to Count III (Cyberpiracy under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d)), the Court found that Yang had committed cyberpiracy with respect to two domains, and awarded statutory damages of $1,000 with respect to the domain www.permalife.co.kr and $25,000 with respect to the domain www.perma-life.co.kr, and awarded to Plaintiff its reasonable attorney fees. (Id. at Conclusions of Law Nos. 20-23.)

d. The Court granted a permanent injunction against future infringement, and ordered Yang to transfer the two domains in suit to Plaintiff. (Id. at Conclusions of Law Nos. 27-29.)

e. With respect to Count V (non-dischargeability in bankruptcy), the Court found that the judgment was non-dischargeable in bankruptcy and was in fact not discharged by Yang's 2009 bankruptcy, both because the infringements were willful and malicious within the meaning of 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(6) (id. at Conclusions of Law Nos. 42-44), and also because Yang had concealed income and assets during his 2009 bankruptcy (id. at Conclusions of Law Nos. 53-55).

f. The attorney fees and costs awarded in this case are also non-dischargeable in bankruptcy, because they are awarded as part of a judgment that is itself non-dischargeable. (Id. at Conclusions of Law No. 56.)

5. Previously, the Clerk approved a Bill of Costs [149] in the amount of $5,144.60.

The Court now finds and rules as follows with respect to the instant fee application.

FINDINGS OF FACT

Plaintiff's Counsel

1. Plaintiff was represented by Joel Voelzke of the Intellectual Property Law Offices of Joel Voelzke, APC, of Malibu, California. Mr. Voelzke is a former partner at Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly, LLP, which was an international law firm at the time that Mr. Voelzke was a partner there. Mr. Voelzke personally handled all aspects of this case. (Voelzke Decl. [148-2] ¶¶ 1-4.)

2. Mr. Voelzke was admitted to practice in California and before this Court in 1995. Additionally, he is registered to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("PTO"). He has 16 years of experience as an intellectual property attorney. For the last eight years he has practiced at the Intellectual Property Law Offices of Joel Voelzke, APC. (Id.)

Plaintiff's Attempts to Settle Without Litigation, and Early in this Litigation 3. Before this lawsuit was filed, Plaintiff offered to settle this dispute if Yang would change the name of his cookware brand from "Pearl Life" to a name that would be entirely dissimilar to Plaintiff's Perma-Life trademark. (Id. at ¶ 15, Exh. 1.) Yang refused. (Id.)

4. After Yang refused to change brand names, Plaintiff conducted further investigation and found additional infringements by Yang. Plaintiff then filed this lawsuit.

5. Early in this lawsuit, Plaintiff orally offered to Yang's counsel to settle this lawsuit for $50,000 and Yang's commitment to no longer infringe. (Voelzke Decl. [148-2] ¶ 17.) Yang's counsel declined that offer. (Id.)

Complicated Factors in This Case

6. This case was complicated by several ...


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