Trials & Litigation

Lawyer Bans Opponent from Hotel in Hard-Fought IP Case

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Concerned that sensitive documents might be delivered to the wrong legal counsel, a corporate client in a hard-fought federal case reportedly contracted with the hotel at which its own attorney was staying not to allow lawyers or staff from the opposing side to stay there, too.

Then, when heavy-hitting Los Angeles litigator John Quinn discovered he was banned from the Mission Hotel in downtown Riverside, Calif., he complained to U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson, asking him to declare the contract between the hotel and MGA Entertainment unenforceable, writes the Daily Journal (sub. req.). Larson reportedly declined to get involved, saying he didn’t have standing to do so.

Meanwhile, at a hearing before Larson, however, lawyers for the hotel pointed out a loophole in the contract, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog recounts: It barred the Quinn contingent from booking rooms at the Mission Inn directly, but did not ban them from doing so via a travel agent.

Quinn, who is now staying with his legal entourage at the Riverside Marriott, says he has never before encountered a situation in which opposing counsel sought to prevent him from staying at the same hotel.

But Thomas Nolan, a partner of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom who is representing MGA, says the move wasn’t all that unusual, according to the Daily Journal. Nolan “said MGA and its former counsel in the case, O’Melveny & Myers, decided the contract was necessary because they had concerns about accidental delivery of their case file boxes or faxes to opposing counsel’s rooms during trial,” the legal publication states.

“We were concerned about security issues,” Nolan told the Daily Journal.

When not focusing their legal skills on accommodations issues, the two are at trial in Riverside federal court in a $500 million-plus intellectual property case between the respective manufacturers of Barbie and Bratz dolls. Mattel, which is represented by Quinn, contends that MGA essentially stole the Bratz concept. MGA, however, accuses Mattel of copying it.

Related coverage:

Wall Street Journal Law Blog: “In Barbie and Bratz Case, Is the Chronology the Key?”

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