Fenwick Secures Federal Circuit Win for Netflix

By: Todd R. Gregorian, Saina Shamilov, J. David Hadden

As reported by Law.com, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has affirmed a win for Netflix, upholding a district court’s power to sanction Realtime Adaptive Streaming with more than $400,000 in attorney fees for its “blatant gamesmanship.”

The Federal Circuit agreed with U.S. District Judge George Wu of the Central District of California that Netflix should be awarded the fees, granted under the court’s inherent power to sanction. The decision was made after Realtime engaged in “impermissible forum shopping.” Realtime had first sued Netflix in Delaware, then voluntarily dismissed the case after a magistrate judge recommended that several of its asserted patents be found ineligible for protection. Realtime then sued in Los Angeles, with some of the same patents, before voluntarily dismissing that case as well.

Judge Raymond Chen wrote for the Federal Circuit that “[w]hile we agree with Realtime that it is generally permissible…for a plaintiff to voluntarily dismiss an action and refile the case in another forum, that is a woefully incomplete description of the circumstances of this case.” Here, “the blatant gamesmanship presented by the facts of this case constitutes a willful action or an improper purpose, tantamount to bad faith, and therefore within the bounds of activities sanctionable under a court’s inherent power.”

Netflix was represented by partners Todd Gregorian, David Hadden and Saina Shamilov.

The case is Realtime Adaptive Streaming LLC v. Netflix, Inc., Netflix Streaming Services, Inc., case number 21-1484, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Coverage of the decision is available on Law.com and Law360 (subscription required).

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