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Amazon Gets Appeals Court’s Help in Enforcing $5.4 Million Award

Oct. 4, 2022, 10:32 PM

Amazon.com Inc. can seek enforcement of a $5.4 million judgment in attorneys’ fees and costs for PersonalWeb Technologies LLC’s “unreasonable litigation tactics” throughout a multi-district patent-infringement dispute, a California appeals court said, reversing a Los Angeles Superior Court.

In a ruling issued Monday in California’s second appellate district, a three-judge panel said Amazon had shown it’s entitled to mandatory intervention under part of a state law that allows such by a party whose ability to protect its interest in the property at the heart of a dispute may be damaged without adequate representation.

  • The appeals court remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to enter an order granting Amazon’s motion to intervene and to “conduct further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”
  • The panel said of its reversal, “We do so reluctantly because, as the busy trial judge noted, Amazon failed to cite the key case”—a 1972 ruling in the same appellate district—"to the trial court except in its supplemental brief, and then only in passing.”
  • PersonalWeb filed 85 patent-infringement suits, starting in January 2018, against different Amazon customers in courts across the country.
  • Amazon soon intervened on behalf of its customers and sued PersonalWeb seeking an injunction barring further litigation; those suits were consolidated in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.
  • The appeals court agreed with Amazon’s contention that the “respondents colluded to pursue the underlying action to preclude Amazon from collecting on its judgment against PersonalWeb. Specifically, the record supports Amazon’s theory that respondents used the case to quickly funnel all of PersonalWeb’s assets into a receivership following Amazon’s victory,” which “insulated” all of its assets from Amazon’s judgment.

Amazon was represented by Fenwick & West LLP and Steptoe & Johnson LLP. Respondents Brilliant Digital and PersonalWeb didn’t make an appearance.

The case is Amazon.com Inc. v. Brilliant Digital Ent’t Inc., Cal. Ct. App., 2d Dist., No. B317580, unpublished 10/3/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Yasiejko in Wilmington, Del., at cyasiejko@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Maya Earls at mearls@bloomberglaw.com