Prevailing Party

  • Need Not Win Each Claim, Or Any Substantive Ruling, To Be Prevailing Party: Governed by Fed. Cir. law. Need not prevail on all claims. Requires “(1) that the party ‘received at least some relief on the merits,’ and (2) ‘[t]hat relief must materially alter the legal relationship between the parties by modifying one party’s behavior in a way that ‘directly benefits’ the opposing party.’” SSL Serv. (Fed. Cir. 10/14/14) (patent owner who obtained damages on one patent but lost (non-infringement) on second patent was prevailing party). “A favorable judgment on the merits is not necessary for a defendant to be deemed a prevailing party for purposes of statutory fee-shifting.” Raniere (Fed. Cir. 04/18/18) (aff’g fees award; defendants prevailing party where action dismissed with prejudice for lack of standing; “The relevant inquiry post-CRST [U.S. 2016], then, is not limited to whether a defendant prevailed on the merits, but also considers whether the district court’s decision—‘a judicially sanctioned change in the legal relationship of the parties’—effects or rebuffs a plaintiff’s attempt to effect a ‘material alteration in the legal relationship between the parties.’”); B.E. Tech. (Fed. Cir. 10/09/19) (aff’g “prevailing party” finding in costs award where complaint dismissed for mootness after patent claims declared unpatentable in IPR (for which lawsuit was stayed) FWD and appeal because judgment “placed a judicial imprimatur upon” rebuffing the plaintiff’s claim); Pragmatus (Fed. Cir. 07/31/15) (non-precedential) (need not have won any substantive decision; defendant is prevailing party where case dismissed with prejudice in view of post-complaint licenses to defendant’s vendors, and dismissal interpreted as a covenant not to sue for any activities prior to the motion to dismiss).

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