Judge sanctions attorney for more than $90,000, said he 'knowingly pursued frivolous claims'

By Elizabeth Alt | Oct 12, 2018

LOS ANGELES – On Sept. 27, the U.S. District Court for the Central District Court of California ruled that the attorney for an information directory service for the Iranian community should be sanctioned for “unreasonable and vexatious conduct."

Judge Ronald S.W. Lew wrote the court order, noting that “both parties engaged in conduct which unnecessarily prolonged the case,” and sanctioned the attorney for Ketab Corp. approximately one-third of the attorney’s fees awarded to the Iranian community telephone directory service it sued.

Ketab provides “information directory and marketing services to the Iranian community outside of Iran,” the ruling states. It sued Melli Yellow Pages, a telephone directory and marketing service for the Iranian community in Los Angeles, and Iranian television IRTV over allegations of federal trademark infringement, federal unfair competition, California trademark infringement, and California unfair competition. 

The court granted Melli’s motion for summary judgment, and Ketab appealed the amount of attorney’s fees granted. The 9th Circuit remanded the case to determine the amount of attorney’s fees that could be sanctioned against Ketab’s attorney, who is only identified as "Mr. Adli" in the ruling.

The Melli defendants filed a brief detailing the reasons Adli should be sanctioned. The brief noted that the district court had previously found Adli “unreasonably continued to prosecute” for claims of trademark dilution, indirect infringement, infringement of the “Yellow Page-e Iranian” phrase, and infringement on the "08" trademark.

Lew agreed that Adli “knowingly pursued frivolous claims” and should be sanctioned for “recklessly pursuing the dilution and indirect infringement claims," the ruling states.

The court order noted that the 9th Circuit had found sanctions were warranted against Adli for “'repeatedly raising claims based on legal theories that the court had previously dismissed,'” the ruling states.

Lew stated in a footnote of the court order that in the opposition brief, Adli did not “dispute that pursuing the 'Yellow Page-e Iranian' claim was reckless. Plaintiff neglects entirely the merits of Melli defendants’ arguments, and instead solely raises procedural arguments that the court, as discussed, disagrees with,” referring to Adli’s claim that the court could only sanction against the claims for dilution and indirect infringement.

Lew stated that the Melli defendants were “equally at fault” with Adli for allowing the “Yellow Page-e Iranian” and “08” infringement claims to proceed through trial. Lew stated that “both parties engaged in conduct which unnecessarily prolonged the case" and that “excess fees were incurred by both sides and the court’s time and resources were wasted.”

Lew sanctioned Adli for $93,812.50 of the Melli defendants’ $292,202 attorney’s award.

U.S. District Court for Central District of California case number 2:14-cv-07241-RSWL-(MRW)

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