Does the Federal Circuit’s promulgation of a rigid and exclusive two-part test for determining whether a case is “exceptional” under 35 U.S.C. § 285 improperly appropriate a district court’s discretionary authority to award attorney fees to prevailing accused infringers in contravention of statutory intent and this Court’s recedent, thereby raising the standard for accused infringers (but not patentees) to recoup fees and encouraging patent plaintiffs to bring spurious patent cases to cause competitive harm or coerce unwarranted settlements from defendants?
The Supreme Court said that the Federal Circuit—the specialized federal court that hears appeals from all patent-infringement suits throughout the country—had interpreted the “exceptional cases” standard too narrowly. The Federal Circuit’s narrow reading of Section 285 had improperly deprived federal district courts of appropriate breathing room to exercise their discretion in awarding attorney’s fees, the Court held.
Cert. Petition filed 3/27/13. Granted 10/1/13. Argued 2/26/2014. Decided 4/29/2014.