The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the rejection of attorney fees, finding that neither inequitable conduct nor a conflict of interest rendered the case exceptional given the limited factual record following a stipulated dismissal in a patent case. United Cannabis Corp. v. Pure Hemp Collective Inc., Case No. 22-1363 (Fed. Cir. May 8, 2023) (Lourie, Cunningham, Stark, JJ.).
United Cannabis Corporation (UCANN) sued Pure Hemp for patent infringement. After the litigation was stayed pending bankruptcy proceedings, the parties stipulated to the dismissal. Pure Hemp then sought attorney fees based on alleged inequitable conduct by UCANN during prosecution of the asserted patent due to nondisclosure of a prior art reference used in the patent’s specification and based on a purported conflict of interest by UCANN’s litigation counsel. The district court denied Pure Hemp’s request, finding that the case was not exceptional. Pure Hemp appealed.
Pure Hemp argued that the district court erred by (1) failing to find Pure Hemp to be the prevailing party in the litigation, (2) not concluding that the undisputed facts established inequitable conduct and (3) not recognizing that UCANN’s attorneys had a conflict of interest.
The Federal Circuit found that although