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Dynamic 3D Geosolutions LLC v. Schlumberger Ltd.

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
837 F.3d 1280 (2016)


Facts

Charlotte Rutherford worked as legal counsel for Schlumberger Ltd. (defendant). Rutherford analyzed patentable aspects of Schlumberger’s products, including the software platform Petrel. Rutherford also evaluated the risk of infringement lawsuits. One of the patents that Rutherford analyzed was United States Patent No. 7,986,319 (‘319 patent). In 2013, Rutherford left Schlumberger and began working for Acacia Research Group LLC, an affiliate of Dynamic 3D Geosolutions LLC (plaintiff). As counsel for Dynamic 3D, Rutherford met with the inventors of the ‘319 patent and discussed a possible acquisition. Around that time, Rutherford also discussed Petrel with other Dynamic 3D attorneys and outside counsel Collins, Edmonds, Pogorzelski, Schlather & Tower PLLC (CEP). They discussed the possibility of suing Schlumberger after acquiring the ‘319 patent. Dynamic 3D involved Rutherford in the company’s hiring of CEP as outside counsel, and Rutherford concurred with the firm’s recommendation to acquire the ‘319 patent. After Dynamic 3D acquired the ‘319 patent, it sued Schlumberger for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. Schlumberger moved to disqualify Rutherford, CEP, and other members of Dynamic 3D’s legal team. The district court granted the motion, disqualifying Rutherford, CEP, and other members of Dynamic 3D’s legal team. Because disqualified counsel drafted the suit, the district court dismissed the complaint. Dynamic 3D appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Lourie, J.)

Concurrence (Wallach, J.)

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