Nilssen v. Osram Sylvania, Inc., No. 2007-1998, -1348 Slip. Op. (Fed. Cir. June 17, 2008).

The Federal Circuit affirmed Judge Darrah’s award of defendant’s/appellee’s attorney’s fees – click here to read the Blog’s post about the inequitable conduct opinion. Judge Darrah previously held and the Federal Circuit previously affirmed that plaintiffs committed inequitable conduct by, among other things: (1) falsely claiming small entity status; (2) failing to disclose material prior art to the PTO; and (3) failing to disclose related litigation to the PTO. Judge Darrah then held that the case was exceptional based upon plaintiff’s inequitable conduct, filing of a frivolous suit, and litigation misconduct. Because the case was exceptional, Judge Darrah awarded defendants their attorney’s fees.

The Federal Circuit agreed with plaintiffs, holding that an inequitable conduct finding did not require a case be deemed exceptional. But the Court held that Judge Darrah’s findings were supported by evidence and, therefore, were within his discretion.

Judge Newman dissented, stating:

The court today promotes unexceptional trial procedures and non-culpable prosecution errors into an "exceptional case" of such severity as to warrant the award of attorney fees. That is not what the status, or precedent, or policy contemplates. I respectfully dissent.

Check the following blogs for more on this opinion: