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"Exceptional cases" warranting attorneys' fees under the Lanham Act
Nightingale Home Healthcare, Inc. v. Anodyne Therapy, LLC, 10-2327, concerned a challenge to the district court's award of defendant's request for attorneys' fees based on 15 U.S.C. section 1117(a), which allows attorneys' fees to be awarded to prevailing parties in Lanham Act suits, but only in "exceptional cases," in a home healthcare services provider's suit against a seller of infrared lamps under the Lanham Act.
In affirming, the court held that a case under the Lanham Act is "exceptional," in the sense of warranting an award of reasonable attorneys' fees to the winning party, if the losing party was the plaintiff and was guilty of abuse of process in suing, or if the losing party was the defendant and had no defense yet persisted in the trademark infringement or false advertising for which he was being sued, in order to impose costs on his opponent. Here, not only had the Lanham Act claim no possible merit, but the district judge found that plaintiff had made the claim in an attempt to coerce a price reduction from defendant, and to bring a frivolous claim in order to obtain an advantage unrelated to obtaining a favorable judgment is to commit an abuse of process.