SCOTUSblog: Octane Fitness v. Icon Health and Fitness (see Highmark Inc. v. Allcare Management Systems, Inc. for another case that discusses the same issue).
Argument: Feb 26 2014 (Aud.)
|Internal emails show ICON's tactics in using a old patent to go after a smaller start-up.|
Issue: The question before the Court is whether 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 appropriates a district court’s discretionary authority to award attorney fees to prevailing accused infringers in contravention of statutory intent and this Court’s precedent, 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.
Holding: In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Brooks Furniture framework that the Federal Circuit relied upon to determine exceptional cases is unduly rigid and impermissibly encumbers the statutory grant of discretion to district courts. District courts may determine whether a case is exceptional in the case-by-case exercise of their discretion, considering the totality of the circumstances.