In Rimini Street, Inc. v. Oracle USA, Inc., a unanimous Supreme Court recently held that 17 U.S.C. § 505’s award of “full costs” is limited to the specific categories of costs defined in 28 U.S.C. §§ 1821 and 1920, which exclude expert witness fees, e-discovery expenses and jury consultant fees. “A statute awarding ‘costs’ will not be construed as authorizing an award of litigation expenses beyond the six categories listed in §§ 1821 and 1920, absent an explicit statutory instruction to that effect.” This decision effectively limits the costs recoverable by a successful litigant as a matter of course in copyright litigation and in “exceptional” trademark and patent cases.
Oracle originally sued Rimini Street in the District of Nevada, alleging that Rimini’s software support services for Oracle customers wrongly copied Oracle’s software without licensing it. The jury agreed and awarded Oracle $35.6 million in damages for copyright infringement and $14.4 million for Oracle’s state law claims. The district court also ordered Rimini Street to pay roughly $28.5 million in attorney’s fees and $4.95 million in taxable costs. Rimini Street was further ordered to pay approximately $12.8 million for nontaxable litigation expenses such as expert witnesses, additional e-discovery fees, contract attorney services and jury consulting. Continue Reading