This morning, the US Supreme Court published opinions in two of the five patent cases it will decide this term. Both will make it easier for parties who win patent cases to collect fees when the other side has engaged in outlandish behavior or filed an exceptionally weak case.
This result will be good news to many tech companies that believe they are regularly attacked with meritless patent cases. A lower standard for fee-shifting would allow them to get some leverage against the non-practicing patent owners sometimes known as “patent trolls.” Many who filed briefs have supported an easier standard for fee-shifting. Apple took the unusual step of filing its own brief in one of these cases, explaining how it had to settle 51 of 57 recently completed patent cases despite believing that its position was legally superior. “[T]he opening line of many negotiations is some form of, ‘What we’re asking for is less than it will cost you to litigate this case to judgment,'” wrote Apple’s lawyers.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote both opinions for a unanimous court.
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