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Court rules on standard for fees in patent cases

Tuesday - 4/29/2014, 5:50pm  ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court is making it easier for winners in some patent lawsuits to have legal fees reimbursed by the losing party.

The justices ruled unanimously in two companion cases Tuesday, finding that trial judges have discretion to award fees in patent cases that are particularly frivolous or unreasonable.

The rulings could deter lawsuits from so-called patent trolls -- companies that buy patents and force businesses to pay license fees or face costly litigation.

In the main case, ICON Health & Fitness, Inc. accused rival Octane Fitness of infringing its patent on elliptical trainers. Octane won and sought to have its attorney fees reimbursed. The district court declined, as did the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The Supreme Court reversed and sent it back for reconsideration.

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