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YURMAN DESIGNS, INC. v. PAJ

December 13, 2000

YURMAN DESIGNS, INC., PLAINTIFF,
V.
PAJ, INC., D/B/A PRIME ART JEWEL, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sweet, District Judge.

OPINION

Plaintiff Yurman Design, Inc. ("Yurman") has moved for an award of attorneys' fees and costs against defendant PAJ, Inc., d/b/a Prime Art & Jewel ("PAJ") pursuant to the judgment in this action. For the reasons set forth below, an award of fees in the amount of $221,561.70, less $10,000 to compensate for the challenged entries, and $22,757.03 in costs will be granted.

As is often regrettably the case, the sequelae of litigation is as difficult and painful to all concerned as the action in chief. This is one such occasion and made more so because counsel for PAJ was retained only after judgment was rendered on behalf of Yurman. Notwithstanding, the resolution of the current issue between the parties has been substantially aided by the skill of all counsel.

Prior Proceedings

This action was commenced by Yurman on December 8, 1998, and immediately went into high gear. PAJ sought removal to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas where it had filed a complaint (the "Texas Action"), and after it was determined that the action would be tried in New York, vigorous motion practice resulted including preliminary injunction and discovery disputes.

After a seven-day jury trial held from October 18 to November 1, 1999, judgment was entered on June 1, 2000, granting Yurman relief on its claims for copyright and trade dress infringement against PAJ, all post-trial motions having been resolved by an Opinion and Order of April 10, 2000. Based upon a finding of willful infringement of Yurman's copyrighted jewelry designs, the judgment provided for an award of Yurman's attorneys' fees and costs pursuant to Section 505 of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 505.

Yurman moved for attorneys' fees and costs it incurred in connection with the prosecution of its copyright claims for the period from November 1, 1998 (the month in which Yurman commenced its investigation of defendant's infringing activities, resulting in the preparation and transmittal of a cease and desist letter to defendant on November 8, 1998) to May 30, 2000, in the total amount of $825,430.39, attributing $742,303.00 to fees and $83,127.39 to costs. Discovery was had in connection with the application, and the motion was heard and marked fully submitted on November 20, 2000.

Facts

The following facts are found based upon the submissions of the parties and hard-won familiarity with the litigation. Both sides have submitted evidence by affidavit and deposition, and neither has requested an evidentiary hearing. The nature of the factual issues presented are particularly suited to the resolution as set forth below.

More than 700 billing entries and charges have been submitted in support of the application, the great majority of which are not specifically attributable to Yurman's copyright claim. Only 37 billing entries and charges specifically refer to the copyright claim, and attribute 12.50 hours to partners, 161.95 to associates and 5.75 hours to paralegals. According to PAJ's expert, the fees actually billed to Yurman for entries expressly attributable to the copyright claims are $37,403.63.

A number of the billing entries and charges for December 1998 through January 1999, relate to a declaratory judgment action brought by PAJ in Texas. According to PAJ, billing attributable to the Texas declaratory judgment action include: partners, 17.25 hours; associates 65.50 hours and paralegals 21.50 hours.

In its submission, Yurman asserts that it did not include any fee specifically attributable to non-copyright claims, and that it attributed fifty percent of all charges from September 8, 1999 to November 1, 1999, to the copyright claim, as well as seventy-five percent of all charges from November 1, 1999 to December 1, 1999. As to costs, all were attributed to the copyright claim other than costs incurred for purposes of trial preparation and trial, i.e., for the period September 8, 1999 to November 1, 1999. For this latter time period, Yurman attributed fifty percent of its costs to its copyright claim.

Three of the forty-nine findings of fact proposed by Yurman related to the copyright claim. Four of the PAJ pieces were found to infringe Yurman's copyrights and trade dress and twenty pieces were found to infringe the trade dress.

Yurman was billed $1107,808.50 in fees and $113,785.17 in costs which included the fees and expenses ...


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