A decision has been upheld this week by a Federal Appeals Court that Icon Health and Fitness must pay $1.6 million in attorney’s fees. The decision is based on the fact Icon filed an unwarranted patent lawsuit against a competitor back in 2009. After a lengthy litigation battle in district courts, lower courts, and the Supreme court, it is likely that the $1.6 million compensation is irrefutable.
In 2009, Icon sued Octane Fitness as it allegedly infringed US Patent No. 6,019,710, with its high-end elliptical machines. A District Court Judge found these allegations to be untrue after two years of trial in 2011. Octane asked for an award of legal fees, but a judge rejected the company’s bid and this decision was upheld on appeal.
Nonetheless, Octane appealed to the Supreme Court and oral arguments were heard in 2014. Judges heard that Octane had uncovered emails in discovery suggesting that Icon was simply using the lawsuit to hamper a smaller competitor and an Icon executive had even described the ‘710 patent as an “old patent we had for a long time that was just sitting on the shelf.” A 9-0 vote concluded with Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s final written opinion, holding that patent laws call for awarding fees in an “exceptional” case, which is “simply one that stands out from others with respect to the substantive strength of a party’s litigating position… or the unreasonable manner in which the case was litigated.”
On Friday, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld (PDF) the lower court’s decision in its entirety. Furthermore, the appeals judges found “no clear error in its analysis” and upheld the district court’s award and dismissed a cross-appeal by Octane asking for a larger award, which would also cover litigation over the fees.