Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Disqualification News – Tainted, In-house Edition



Fascinating story about in-house counsel disqualification: "Acacia Feels Fallout From Schlumberger Ruling" --
  • "Patent licensing juggernaut Acacia Research Group [current market cap: $540m] suffered a blow last week when its lawyers—including its entire in-house legal department—were kicked off an infringement suit against oil field services company Schlumberger Ltd."
  • "Schlumberger’s lawyers at Latham & Watkins convinced U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin to disqualify Acacia’s counsel in a case accusing Schlumberger of violating a patent related to three-dimensional geologic mapping. The judge also dismissed the suit, filed by Acacia subsidiary Dynamic 3D Geosolutions LLC, without prejudice."
  • "Schlumberger’s disqualification bid centered on the role that Acacia lawyer and executive Charlotte Rutherford played in Acacia’s decision to acquire the 3D-mapping patent in late 2013 and to sue Schlumberger in February 2014. Rutherford served as Schlumberger’s deputy general counsel for intellectual property for four years, until she joined Acacia and took the lead of its newly formed Texas energy practice in 2013. Schlumberger claimed Rutherford worked on matters related to Acacia’s infringement claims before making the move, and then counseled her new company about the litigation."
  • "Yeakel disqualified not only Rutherford, but also the rest of Acacia’s in-house legal team and its outside lawyers at Collins, Edmonds, Pogorzelski, Schiather & Tower. He then dismissed the case, ruling that 'although a harsh result,' Rutherford’s involvement had tainted the litigation."
  • "'This has been, to my knowledge, only the third case that’s been published where a disqualification has led to a dismissal,' said Latham’s Maximilian Grant, who argued the disqualification motion for Schlumberger at a November hearing."

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