Patent infringement case against AT&T, Microsoft dismissed

SE Texas Record/September 16, 2016

By Dawn Geske

Dallas – Attorney fees have been awarded to AT&T Inc. and Microsoft Corp. in an infringement case that claimed the two companies copied several software patents.

The plaintiff, Keith Raniere, filed the suit in February 2015 against AT&T and Microsoft, alleging the companies were using a number of his patents for intelligent switching systems for voice and data. In his lawsuit, Raniere claimed that AT&T used the software patents in its AT&T Connect service and Microsoft used the patents in its Lync 2010 products.

U.S. District Judge Barabra M.G. Lynn dismissed the case in favor or AT&T and Microsoft after they challenged Raniere’s ownership of the network conferencing software and the patents in question. In what appeared to be untruthful testimony, Raniere allegedly failed to prove he actually owned the patents, causing the case to be dismissed as there was no standing for Raniere’s claims.

Following dismissal, both AT&T and Microsoft filed a motion to have their attorney fees covered by Raniere. AT&T requested that $935,300 be paid by the plaintiff and Microsoft presented $202,000 in costs and fees to be covered. Lynn requested both parties present proof of the costs and fees incurred from the case and denied Raniere any chance to correct or modify his lawsuit.

Both AT&T and Microsoft filed for attorney fees under the motion that Lynn found the case to be “exceptional,” which she included in her opinion at dismissal. Lynn granted AT&T and Microsoft the requested costs and fees and sanctioned Raniere for his conduct during the case. Lynn said he acted on “bad faith” and “vexatiously multiplied” the proceedings.

Lynn said Raniere had a standing issue, which she was certain he would never be able to solve. Given multiple opportunities to clarify the standing issue, Raniere was unable to address the court's concerns in the matter. Lynn said Raniere “engaged in a pattern of obfuscation, offering inconsistent theories and arguments and promising to produce evidence that never materialized.”

The case was held in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, and referred to five patents for network conferencing software. Raniere claimed that AT&T was using patents 6,373,936, 6,819,752 and 7,391,856, while Microsoft supposedly used 7,215,752 and 7,844,041.

Raniere was represented by Christopher E. Blank of Schmeiser Olsen & Watts, Daniel L. Gus of Gus & Gilbert Law Firm, Jared L DuJack of Schmeiser Olsen & Watts LLP and Robert D. Crockett, Chase Tajima and Courtney Vandreuil of Crockett & Associates.

AT&T’s legal counsel included Carter Scholer Arnett Hamada & Mockler PLLC, attorneys E. Leon Carter and John S. Torkelson and Paul Hastings LLP, attorneys Christopher W. Kennerly, Lindsay M. White and Evan McLean.

Microsoft was represented by attorneys Michelle LeGrand Hartmann, Raquel C. Rodriguez, Richard A. Cederoth and Douglas I. Lewis of Sidney Austin LLP.

Raniere supposedly has filed an appeal in the case for which he requested a delay in the ruling on the attorney fees until the matter was resolved in the Appeals Court. Lynn declined his motion.

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