Motions Panel Denies Writ to Overturn Disqualification of Firm

The CAFC issued an order today denying a petition for writ of mandamus to direct a district court to vacate its disqualification order in a patent suit.  The order In re Atoptech, Inc., in is here.

Pretty standard stuff:

The district court stated that if a substantial relation- ship was shown between the current and former representations, a conclusive presumption arises that confidential material information was transmitted to the attorneys. ATopTech does not disagree with this statement of Ninth Circuit law, but instead disputes that Synopsys made a showing of a substantial relationship. The district court found that Synopsys met this heavy burden because it made “a sufficient showing that the ’941 patent was discussed or the probability of it having been discussed.” The district court also found that there was “a relevant overlap in the products that were at issue in the former case and now will be at issue again,” and stated that because of “the long relationship that [OMM] had with Magma and the thoroughness…of [OMM’s] work, in general,” disqualification of OMM was appropriate. We determine that the district court had a sound basis for disqualifying OMM. Therefore, mandamus relief is not warranted.

The district court properly rejected what looks like a belated effort to “screen” the conflicted lawyers.

The real issue is how you determine substantial relationship.  Our book points out that courts are all over the place both in how they describe, and how they implement, that test.

(hat tip:  Ned)

About David

Professor of Law, Mercer University School of Law. Formerly Of Counsel, Taylor English Duma, LLP and in 2012-13, judicial clerk to Chief Judge Rader.

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