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Supreme Court rules on attorney's fees in patent cases

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled Tuesday in two cases concerning attorney's fees in patent disputes. In Octane Fitness v. ICON Health and Fitness [SCOTUSblog backgrounder; JURIST report] the court ruled [opinion, PDF] that the framework used by the district court to award attorney's fees was too rigid. Section 285 [text] of the Patent Act authorizes a district court to award attorney's fees in patent litigation. In Brooks Furniture Manufacturing v. Dutailier International [opinion] the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that "[a] case may be deemed exceptional" under §285 only in two limited circumstances: "when there has been some material inappropriate conduct," or when the litigation is both "brought in subjective bad faith" and "objectively baseless." In an opinion by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court held that the Brooks Furniture framework is inconsistent with the statutory text.

In Highmark v. Allcare Health Management System [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] the court ruled [opinion, PDF] that all aspects of the district court's exceptional-case determination under §285 should be reviewed for abuse of discretion. Sotomayor also authored this opinion, on the basis of the court's opinion in Octane Fitness.

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