The US Supreme Court issued its ruling Wednesday in Peter v. Nantkwest, a case concerning attorney’s fees in patent cases.
The case questioned whether attorney’s fees were included as expenses that applicants seeking review of their patent decision with the Patent Trademark Office (PTO) were responsible for.
The court issued a unanimous ruling in the case, finding that applicants seeking review of their patent decision with the PTO do not have to cover attorney’s fees incurred by the PTO. In reaching its decision, the court relied upon what is known as the “American Rule,” which states that “[e]ach litigant pays his own attorney’s fees, win or lose, unless a statute or contract provides otherwise.” Because the statute at issue “does not invoke attorney’s fees with the kind of ‘clarity we have required to deviate from the American Rule,'” the court found that the American Rule still applies in this case. Because the American Rule applies, the court found that the PTO’s attorney’s fees do not need to be covered by applicants seeking review of their patent.