The Cost of Nondisclosure

Submitted by patentadmin on Wed, 05/18/2011 - 22:33

As anyone who has dealt with lawyers can attest, they NEVER DISCLOSE ANY INFORMATION – even information which is otherwise readily available and not confidential – NOTHING. Sometimes this is good practice, but sometimes it comes back to bite them where they sit. (BIAX Corporation v. NVIDIA Corporation, et al.)

NVIDIA had been awarded its fees and costs incurred with respect to unspecified discovery abuses and had submitted a request for $92,808.20. BIAX, determined to embarrass itself even further, objected to this request on the assumption that the billing rates of NVIDIA’s attorneys were “substantially higher” than those customary in the forum.

NVIDIA defended its claim by pointing to information from the website of BIAX’s counsel, which suggested that both firms, which were national in scope, had similar billing rates. BIAX responded that the rates posted on their website, “are not likely [local] rates,” but declined to provide further information.

The Court was not satisfied with this. “I do not understand why [BIAX’s] counsel did not simply tell me what their rates are. I can only assume, as did NVIDIA, that counsel did not disclose this information (which is obviously readily available) because to do so would not support their argument.” The Court denied BIAX’s challenge as “too vague.”

As a small consolation prize to BIAX, the Court decided that NVIDIA’s claimed fees for preparing its motion requesting an award of fees was somewhat excessive and awarded a total of only $79,167.83.

THE LESSON TO BE LEARNED: Sometimes candor is the best policy; if you try to hide something, people will simply assume the worst.

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