[T]he Guidelines’ assumption that many types of pharmaceutical inventions are inherently obvious and undeserving of patent protection is incorrect and based on an oversimplified view of how these inventions come about. This Article provides an evidence-based response to the Guidelines that refutes, or at least qualifies, some of the significant conclusions and recommendations set forth by its author.

Andrew M. McCoy
Faegre Baker Daniels LLP
300 North Meridian Street, Suite 2700
Indianapolis, IN 46204
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Section 285 of the Patent Act allows a prevailing party to recover attorneys’ fees in “exceptional” cases. [1]. In Octane Fitness, LLC v. Icon Health & Fitness, Inc.[2] and Highmark Inc. v. Allcare Health Management Systems, Inc.[3] the Supreme Court relaxed the requirements for proving an “exceptional” case in three significant ways: (1) now a party who files a section 285 motion need only prove that a case is “exceptional” by a preponderance of the evidence; [4] (2) the movant no longer has to prove bad faith and objective baselessness, [5] but instead must prove that, under the “totality of the circumstances,” [6] the case “stands out from others,” considering numerous factors, such as “frivolousness, motivation, objective unreasonableness (both in the factual and legal components of the case) and the need . . . to advance considerations of compensation and deterrence;” [7] and (3) the appellate standard of review under section 285 is now a deferential abuse-of-discretion standard. [8].

Intellectual property litigators must be aware of these changes and also how various district courts are applying them. This article analyzes the dozens of cases that have applied Octane Fitness and Highmark, with a particular focus on district court opinions, [9] and identifies helpful trends and insights for patent litigators.