California - Groupion LLC was scolded Monday by a California federal judge for filing a motion to have the judge recused based on flimsy accusations of bias due to an adverse ruling against it in Groupon Inc.'s trademark infringement and cybersquatting lawsuit against the software company.
Groupion sought to disqualify Judge Jeffrey White on the grounds that he reviewed and considered documents that they contend are confidential settlement offers.
Judge White ruled that the motion to disqualify was untimely, coming as it did on the eve of trial, but even if it wasn't, it would have failed on the merits, he said.
"A motion for disqualification based entirely from the district court judge's adverse ruling is not an adequate basis for recusal," the judge said.
Groupion's motion was premised on the court's consideration of documents which were officially filed in the case and form the basis of Groupon's cybersquatting claim. The company has not demonstrated a bias or prejudice which stems from an extrajudicial source, and the federal rules of civil procedure do not bar consideration of those settlement offers, Judge White said.
Groupon's cybersquatting claim was not a part of the settlement negotiations because it was not yet in existence, he noted. The rule cited is also inapplicable to communications when they are admitted to prove a wrong that was committed in the course of settlement discussions, he said.
Judge White reserved judgment for the moment on Groupion's accompanying motion for a jury trial on Groupon's cancellation claim, and refused its motion to have Groupion's founder dismissed from the case for lack of jurisdiction.
"The court admonishes counter-defendants to not file any more motions without following the proper procedures and without supporting such motions with legal authority and evidence," he said.
Groupion originally sued Groupon for trademark infringement in February 2011. Groupon fired back with cybersquatting claims earlier this year over Groupion's purchase of European domain names infringing its trademarks.