A blog about patent, copyright and trademark law in the U.S. District Court
for the Southern District of New York

Judge Gardephe Denies Attorneys' Fees Award

In a July 11, 2013 ruling, Judge Paul G. Gardephe denied the defendant The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc.'s motion for attorneys' fees after its successful motion to dismiss plaintiff Klauber Brothers, Inc.'s breach of contract, and copyright and trademark infringement claims. For the breach of contract claim, Judge Gardephe ruled that an attorneys' fee award is available under the Court's inherent powers where a party has "'acted in bad faith, vexatiously, wantonly, or for oppressive reasons.'"  Finding that Klauber's conduct did not meet that standard, the Court declined to award fees on the breach of contract claim.  Judge Gardephe denied the fee claim under the Copyright Act, holding that "[w]here, as here, a copyright claim is not frivolous or objectively unreasonable, the goals of 'compensation and deterrence' . . . are not furthered in granting an award of attorneys' fees."  Lastly, regarding the trademark infringement claim, the Court noted that attorneys' fees are only available in an exceptional case, and held that while Klauber's theory of standing to assert a trademark infringement claim "was incorrect, there is no evidence that Klauber's Lanham Act claim was brought in bad faith, or as a 'competitive ploy.'"  Judge Gardephe accordingly denied the motion for fees in its entirety.
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