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What is the meaning of "simple discretionary inquiry" in supreme court opinion:

Finally, the Court rejected the appellate court’s “clear and convincing evidence” standard that successful patent litigants would have to establish in order to receive fees. Instead, the Court held that a simple discretionary inquiry would serve to determine whether granting attorney fees is appropriate.

What will the court actions be to meet simple discretionary inquiry standard next time it will have to decide entitlement to attorney’s fees? Is there a definition for simple discretionary inquiry? Is there a precedent explaining steps court takes when it performs discretionary inquiry? Is it a common self-explanatory term?

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Demands for a "simple discretionary inquiry" happens when a court disagree with the Federal circuit imposition of a “clear and convincing evidence” standard on a party seeking to establish entitlement to attorney’s fees.

The demands for a "simple discretionary inquiry" is under section 285, which means it imposes no specific evidentiary burden, much less such a high one. Attorney’s fees should be awarded by preponderance of the evidence.

  • Although not part of the original question, also note that the same Supreme Court opinion instructs the Federal Circuit to review under an abuse of discretion standard rather than de novo. The lower evidentiary burden along with as more strict standard of appellate review could lead to an increase in fee awards. – bobfandango Nov 13 '14 at 21:36

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