Apple Sets the Bar for the $1,200 an Hour Patent Lawyer

By Andrew Lu on September 12, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In a strange twist, the billing rates and legal fees from the Apple Samsung lawsuit seem to be making as many headlines as the underlying patents involved in the litigation.

By some accounts, the lawyers involved in the lawsuit for both sides may have billed as much as half a billion dollars combined.

And reports have it that a $1,200 an hour billing rate for top-flight patent attorneys is somewhat routine, reports Bloomberg. So is it a big deal that attorneys are billing at such high rates and collecting such huge fees?

If the average person or the average business had to hire attorneys at the same billing rates as charged to Apple, the rates would shock the conscience. So that's why you have to consider the companies involved in high-profile patent litigation and the amount of money at stake.

Companies like Apple and Samsung do not have a problem paying these legal fees, because a $30 million dollar legal fee or even a $100 million legal fee is nothing to them. Apple could pay the $100 million legal bill on less than a day's worth of iPhone sales, reports Bloomberg. And for that measly cost, Apple stands to gain a huge sum by knocking their chief rival, Samsung, off the market.

Similarly, paying $100 million legal fees is also a drop in the bucket for Samsung -- the world's largest smartphone maker. They stand to benefit a lot more than what they had to pay in legal fees.

So these companies are willing to pay the very best attorneys in their field to build their case or establish their defense. And the very best attorneys have their price.

The whole issue of billing rates for patent attorneys has been overblown in the wake of the Apple Samsung case. Attorney's fees, in the end, are determined by the marketplace. If someone is willing to pay $1,200 an hour, someone will charge that much. They would be stupid not to.

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