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Allcare Media Statement Oral Argument at the Supreme Court


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Erik Puknys, Partner at Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP

The Supreme Court heard oral argument today in the case of Highmark v. Allcare. The case concerns whether the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which was established by Congress to bring uniformity and predictability to the Nation’s Patent Laws, should play that role when it comes to the Patent Law’s fee-shifting statute. The statute at issue (Section 285), which is widely recognized an important tool in policing meritless patent litigation, permits a district court to force the losing party to pay its opponent’s fees, but only when the case is “exceptional.” A district court in Texas ordered Allcare to pay more than $5,000,000 to Highmark because, in the Texas court’s view, Allcare’s infringement allegations were “objectively baseless.” The Federal Circuit reversed the district court, however, and specifically found that Allcare’s infringement position was reasonable. Highmark has appealed the Federal Circuit’s decision on the grounds that the Federal Circuit should have deferred to the district court’s decision.

A Supreme Court ruling in favor of Allcare's position will confirm the Federal Circuit's role as Congress intended. Further, as a practical matter, because the Federal Circuit deals with a far greater number of patent cases than any district court, it is best positioned to make determinations as to whether or not a case has merit.



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