United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES (ECF
JANIS L. SAMMARTINO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court are Plaintiffs LG Corporation's, LG
Electronics, Inc.'s, and LG Electronics Mobilecomm
U.S.A., Inc.'s (collectively, “LG”) Motion
for Attorneys' Fees (“Fee Mot., ” ECF No.
136), as well as their Supplemental Memorandum in Support of
Their Motion for Attorneys' Fees, (“Fee Mot. Suppl.
Mem., ” ECF No. 147). The Court vacated the hearing on
the motion and took the matter under submission without oral
argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). (ECF No.
144.) After considering LG's arguments and the law, the
Court GRANTS LG's Motion for
February 7, 2017, the Court granted LG's Motion for
Default Judgment against several Defendants (collectively,
“Defaulting Defendants”). (“Amended D.J.
Order, ” ECF No. 127.) The Court also awarded
Plaintiffs reasonable attorneys' fees and costs, and
invited LG to submit evidence of their attorneys' fees.
(Id. at 25.) LG timely filed their Motion for
Attorneys' Fees, which the Court now considers.
Lanham Act provides that in “exceptional cases”
the court “may award reasonable attorney fees to the
prevailing party.” 15 U.S.C. §
“To determine what fee should be awarded, the court
must first determine the ‘lodestar, ' which is the
number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation
multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate.” United
Steelworkers of Am. v. Phelps Dodge Corp., 896 F.2d 403,
406 (9th Cir. 1990); see also Hensley v. Eckerhart,
461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983) (“The most useful starting
point for determining the amount of a reasonable fee is the
number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation
multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate.”). There is a
“strong presumption” that the lodestar represents
the reasonable fee. City of Burlington v. Dague, 505
U.S. 557, 562 (1992). “Next, in appropriate cases, the
district court may adjust the ‘presumptively
reasonable' lodestar figure based upon the factors listed
in Kerr v. Screen Extras Guild, Inc., 526 F.2d 67,
69-70 (9th Cir. 1975) (Kerr), cert. denied,
425 U.S. 951, 96 S.Ct. 1726, 48 L.Ed.2d 195 (1976), that have
not been subsumed in the lodestar calculation.”
Intel Corp. v. Terabyte Int'l, Inc., 6 F.3d 614,
622 (9th Cir. 1993). “The lodestar amount presumably
reflects the novelty and complexity of the issues, the
special skill and experience of counsel, the quality of
representation, and the results obtained from the
a total of $383, 134.35 in attorneys' fees apportioned per
Defaulting Defendant. The Court will now consider the
reasonableness of the hourly rates and the hours expended.
Reasonableness of Rate
inform and assist the court in the exercise of its
discretion, the burden is on the fee applicant to produce
satisfactory evidence-in addition to the attorney's own
affidavits-that the requested rates are in line with those
prevailing in the community for similar services by lawyers
of reasonably comparable skill, experience and reputation.
Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 895 n.11 (1984).
“The relevant community is that in which the district
court sits.” Weeks v. Kellogg Co., 2013 WL
6531177, No. CV 0908102(MMM) (RZx), at *32 (C.D. Cal. Nov.
23, 2013) (citing Schwarz v. Sec'y of Health &
Human Servs., 73 F.3d 895, 906 (9th Cir. 1995)).
“In establishing the reasonable hourly rate, the court
may take into account: (1) the novelty and complexity of the
issues; (2) the special skill and experience of counsel; (3)
the quality of representation; and (4) the results
obtained.” Kilopass Tech., Inc. v. Sidense
Corp., 82 F.Supp.3d 1154, 1170 (N.D. Cal. 2015).
billing rates for Finnegan attorneys and summer associates
working on this case ranged from $130 to $890, depending on
the individual's experience. (Decl. of Mark Sommers in
Supp. of Pls.' Mot. for Att'ys' Fees
(“Sommers Decl.”) ¶ 3, ECF No. 136-2.) Mr.
Sommers, the lead counsel for LG since the inception of this
case, was the only attorney charging $850 to $890 per hour,
(id. ¶¶ 2-3), and LG further notes that
Finnegan partners billed an average of $695 per hour, (Fee
Mot. Suppl. Mem. 3). The billing rate for Finnegan paralegals
ranged from $210 to $350, depending on the individual's
level of experience and responsibilities. (Id.
¶ 12.) In support of these rates LG cites market reports
detailing the prevailing rates for intellectual property
attorneys in San Diego and cases from this district
discussing and finding reasonable similar rates. For the
reasons outlined below, this evidence persuades the Court
that these hourly rates are reasonable. See United
Steelworkers, 896 F.2d at 407 (“Affidavits of the
plaintiffs' attorney and other attorneys regarding
prevailing fees in the community, and rate determinations in
other cases, particularly those setting a rate for the
plaintiffs' attorney, are satisfactory evidence of the
prevailing market rate.”).
Court finds these rates reasonable for a number of reasons.
For one, Finnegan is an international intellectual property
firm with numerous accolades for its intellectual property
work. (Sommers Decl. ¶ 17 (collecting awards).) In
addition, courts recognize that intellectual property work
requires specialized knowledge. See, e.g., Yufa
v. TSI Inc., No. 09-cv-01315-KAW, 2014 WL 4071902, at *5
(N.D. Cal. Aug. 14, 2014). Moreover, LG obtained favorable
results in this case, including a temporary restraining
order, preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, and
statutory damages of over $168, 000, 000 spread out over the
Defaulting Defendants. (See generally Amended D.J.
Finnegan's hourly rates are in line with other cases in
this district approving similar fee requests by peer law
firms. See, e.g., Zest IP Holdings, LLC v.
Implant Direct Mfg., LLC, No. 10-CV-0541-GPC WVG, 2014
WL 6851612, at *5 (S.D. Cal. Dec. 3, 2014) (finding rates
reasonable where plaintiffs sought “an hourly rate of
between $170 per hour and $895 per hour depending on the
particular attorney or paralegal” for work by a
“multi-state/national law firm”). As for partner
billing rates, Finnegan's rates appear to be within the
median range of billing rates in 2015 for intellectual
property suits in San Diego. See Flowrider Surf, Ltd. v.
Pac. Surf Designs, Inc., No. 15CV1879-BEN (BLM), 2017 WL
2212029, at *3 (S.D. Cal. May 18, 2017) (citing a publication
noting that the 2015 median billing rates for intellectual
property partners in San Diego was between $585.04 and
$727.50). Although Mr. Sommers' rate of $783 is higher
than this range, the Court finds that it is nevertheless
reasonable because it falls within the range of rates charged
by intellectual property partners of similar experience
(which is $331-$870), (Fee Mot. Suppl. Mem. 3 (citing AIPLA
2015 Report of the Economic Survey (“AIPLA
Survey”) I-25)), and is less than the lead counsel rate
previously approved in Zest. See Zest, 2014
WL 6851612, at *5 (finding reasonable an hourly rate of
$850-$895 for the plaintiffs' lead counsel). Thus, the
Court finds reasonable the rates charged by Finnegan partners
in this case.
associate billing rates are also reasonable. Finnegan
associates billed between $370 and $488, for an average of
$415. (Fee Mot. Suppl. Reply 4.) This average is within $2 of
the median billing rate in 2015 for intellectual property
associates in San Diego, (id. (citing Flowrider
Surf, 2017 WL 2212029, at *3 (noting that the average
was $413.80)), and in some cases is lower than the rates
approved by other courts in this district, (id. at
4- 5 (citing Zest, 2014 WL 6851612, at *5-6)). LG
notes that only one of its associate's rate of $444 falls
outside the AIPLA Survey range. (Id. at 5.) The
Court nevertheless finds this departure reasonable given that
it is a small departure and that the Zest Court
found reasonable a $565 hourly rate for an associate with
similar experience. Zest, 2014 WL 6851612, at *5.
Thus, the Court finds reasonable the rates charged by the
Finnegan associates in this case. (See also Fee Mot.
Suppl. Mem. 5-6 ...