In a case which even we find bizarre, attorneys are seeking to defend their clients, accused of patent infringement, by alleging that other attorneys, from the same firm, were somehow “deficient” when they prosecuted the patents-in-suit. (Telematics Corp. v. Actsoft Inc. et al.)
Back in 1992, Mobile Information Systems, Inc. retained the law firm of Townsend and Townsend and Crew LLP to prosecute certain patent applications directed to a method of tracking vehicles using maps on electronic displays. By 2006, the applications had matured into what are now the patents-in-suit and these patents, ultimately, were acquired by Telematics, a unit of Acacia Research Corp.
Earlier this year, Townsend and Townsend and Crew merged with the law firm of Kilpatrick Stockton LLP to form the new firm of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP. This new firm has been retained by several of the defendants in the Telematics lawsuit and has filed counterclaims, on their behalf, alleging specific deficiencies in the prosecution of the patents-in-suit. Yes indeed folks; defense counsel is asserting that other attorneys in their own firm screwed up the patent prosecution, which must make for some interesting conversation at the firm’s social affairs.
Telematics has moved to disqualify Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton from representing any of the defendants in this case, contending that the firm had a conflict of interest and also that its attorneys had possession of privileged documents obtained during the patent prosecution.
Telematics also pointed out that, in a different lawsuit in 2007, attorneys at Kilpatrick Stockton had alleged that the Telematics patents had been secured through “fraud and/or inequitable conduct in the prosecution before the Patent Office.”
A Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton partner has issued a statement that “we disagree with the motion and will respond appropriately.” So, while awaiting the court’s decision on the motion to disqualify, we are wondering how well the attorneys at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton are getting along with each other.
Honestly, I can't imagine what possessed Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton to take on this case. Their decision seems to scream "conflict of interest," but is also, frankly, quite gauche. I'd like to know whether or not the Telematics motion is granted. Meanwhile, I'd imagine some discussions at the KTS water-cooler could be quite tense.