Conflicted Interests

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently issued a per curiam order that disqualified Jones Day from representing plaintiff Celgard LLC in a patent infringement action against LG Chem Ltd.

Apple Inc., Jones Day’s client in unrelated matters, requested, and the court agreed, that Jones Day should be disqualified from the patent suit based on a conflict of interest.

Jones Day began representing Celgard LLC on appeal. If the preliminary injunction ruling against LG Chem Ltd. was affirmed, the company would be unable to continue selling its batteries to its customers, which included Apple Inc.

The court applied North Carolina’s rules of professional conduct. Rule 1.7 states, “a lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest. A concurrent conflict of interest exists if: (1) the representation of one client will be directly adverse to another client.”

The court stated, “Because Jones Day’s representation here is ‘directly adverse’ to the interests and legal obligations of Apple, and is not merely adverse in an ‘economic sense,’ the duty of loyalty protects Apple from further representation [by Jones Day] of Celgard.”

Click here to read the order.

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