AngioScore lost the patent infringement portion of its legal war with co-founder and former board member Eitan Konstantino, but won’t have to pay its opponents’ $4.8 million legal tab, a federal judge ruled this week.
AngioScore, which accused Konstantino of violating his fiduciary duties when he started TriReme Medical, Quattro Vascular and QT Vascular, won a $20 million judgment in July that the defendants are appealing. But the patent infringement case, which Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the U.S. District Court for Northern California split from the suit in March, went the other way after a jury returned a verdict Sept. 29 of non-infringement and invalidity.
TriReme and its co-defendants in October asked Gonzalez Rogers to order AngioScore to cough up $4.8 million to cover its legal costs. AngioScore’s infringement theories were “exceptionally meritless,” they argued, according to court documents.
Citing an email from AngioScore CEO Tom Trotter, the defendants argued that AngioScore’s intent with the patent infringement case was to disrupt a potential acquisition.
“In fact, in an e-mail sent only weeks before AngioScore filed its complaint for patent infringement, AngioScore’s CEO, Tom Trotter, confirmed that the lawsuit was intended to disrupt investment in or acquisition of Defendants by a company that his subordinate thought might be interested in TriReme: ‘If so, they may be in for a big surprise when they move toward a close and find TriReme is facing a potential major lawsuit,'” they argued, according to the documents. “Mr. Trotter also boasted to AngioScore’s sales team: “They [Defendants] will soon be hearing from us.”
But Gonzalez Rogers found nothing “inherently suspect” in Trotter’s comments.
“A CEO might make such a remark regarding a suit brought in good faith,” she wrote.
“The court finds that the totality of the circumstances at issue here does not suggest the patent suit was brought in bad faith, with an improper purpose, or in the absence of an adequate pre-filing investigation. Defendants have put forth no authority supporting an exceptional case finding in such a context,” Gonzalez Rogers wrote.