Federal Circuit limits patent office's ability to recover attorneys' fees

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is not automatically entitled to attorneys’ fees from parties who sue the agency over rejected patent applications, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday.

In an en banc 7-4 decision the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said the PTO could not recoup attorneys’ fees it incurred in a 2013 lawsuit brought by NantKwest Inc. The biotech company claimed the agency erred in denying its patent relating to a cancer treatment.

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