Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Welcome Back, SCOTUS: Cert Grants of Interest

Today the Supreme Court came back from its summer recess and granted certiorari in eight cases. More information is available from Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog. Three of the cases raise interesting procedural issues specific to intellectual property claims:

Highmark Inc. v. Allcare Management Systems, Inc. (No. 12-1163), concerns the provision in the Patent Act (35 U.S.C. § 285) that a “court in exceptional cases may award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party.” It presents the question:

Whether a district court’s exceptional-case finding under 35 U.S.C. § 285, based on its judgment that a suit is objectively baseless, is entitled to deference.

The decision below (from the Federal Circuit) is at 687 F.3d 1300.

Octane Fitness v. Icon Health and Fitness (No. 12-1184) also concerns 35 U.S.C. § 285. It presents the question:

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 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?

The decision below (from the Federal Circuit) is at 496 Fed.Appx. 57.

Petrella v. MGM, Inc. (No. 12-1315) involves the movie Raging Bull. It presents the question:

Whether the nonstatutory defense of laches is available without restriction to bar all remedies for civil copyright claims filed within the three-year statute of limitations prescribed by Congress, 17 U.S.C. § 507(b).

The decision below (from the Ninth Circuit) is at 695 F.3d 946 (2012).



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