Supreme Court Clarifies Scope of “Full Costs” in Copyright Dispute

Written March 6, 2019

The United States Supreme Court on March 4, 2019, issued a unanimous decision holding that winning parties in copyright cases can’t collect expert-witness fees and jury consultant costs. Rimini Street Inc. v. Oracle USA Inc., U.S., No. 17-1625, 3/4/19.

The Court held that “full costs” in copyright litigation are limited to Sections 1821 and 1920, reversing the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s decision to award $12.8 million to Oracle covering litigation expenses outside of the statutory schedule of costs.

A jury had awarded Oracle $35.6 million in infringement damages and granted its request that Rimini pay its legal bills, which the Ninth Circuit affirmed. Here, the Supreme Court rejected Oracle’s argument that the word “full” allows courts to award expenses beyond those specified in the rules.