By Jason Rantanen
I’m currently spending much of my time attempting to untangle the mess that is the law around Section 284 enhanced damages (i.e.: willful infringement) and Section 285 attorney fee awards (i.e.: exceptional case determinations). Octane Fitness doesn’t reset the field so much as add a new layer to an already complex area of law, a layer that also potentially impacts willful infringement due to the Federal Circuit’s linking of the two standards.
There’s a term in Octane Fitness, though, that leaped out at me as I was reading the Court’s opinion. In discussing what constitutes an exceptional case (and why the Federal Circuit’s objective + subjective standard is incorrect), Justice Sotomayor writes:
But a case presenting either subjective bad faith or exceptionally meritless claims may sufficiently set itself apart from mine-run cases to warrant a fee award.
572 U.S. ___ (2014), Slip Op. at 9. Perhaps you’re all snickering, but I had no idea what “mine-run” meant so I went and looked it up. (My first thought was that it had something to do with Minecraft, but I knew that couldn’t possibly be right.) In the interests of sharing my new-found enlightenment, here’s the definition from Meriam-Webster Online: