Dynamic 3D Geosolutions LLC v. Schlumberger Ltd., No. 15-1628 (Fed. Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Schlumberger hired Rutherford in 2006. She was promoted to Director of Intellectual Property and later to Deputy General Counsel for Intellectual Property. Rutherford managed a copyright lawsuit and evaluated legal risks involving Petrel, Schlumberger’s software platform for three-dimensional modeling of oil wells. One competitor’s product analyzed during this project was Austin’s RECON software (the 319 patent). After seven years, Rutherford left Schlumberger. She began working as Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel at Acacia, which began discussions to acquire the 319 patent. Petrel was discussed as a potential target of patent infringement litigation. Rutherford participated in the decision to hire CEP as outside counsel for all 319-patent-related litigation. Dynamic was formed to hold the 319 patent. Dynamic filed several lawsuits, including one accusing Petrel of infringement. On Schlumberger’s motion, the court disqualified Rutherford, other Acacia in-house counsel, and CEP from representing Dynamic in the case. Schlumberger also sued Rutherford in Texas state court, presenting evidence that she retained confidential, privileged information to provide to Acacia. The Texas court dismissed all but a breach-of-contract claim and sanctioned Schlumberger for bringing the suit. The federal district court found that Rutherford’s work at Schlumberger was substantially related to her work at Acacia; that the evidence of her involvement created an irrebuttable presumption that she acquired confidential information requiring her disqualification; that the acquired knowledge should be imputed to all Acacia attorneys for purposes of Dynamic’s suit; and that disqualification extended to CEP. Because the pleadings were drafted by disqualified counsel, the court dismissed Dynamic’s claims without prejudice. The Federal Circuit affirmed, citing the ABA Model Rules and the Texas Disciplinary Rules.