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Posts Tagged: "In re Seagate Technology"

Piercing Halo’s Haze at Year Five: Smoke Clearing on Enhanced Damages

On June 13, 2016, the Supreme Court decided Halo Elecs., Inc. v. Pulse Elecs., Inc., addressing standards for recovery of enhanced damages for patent infringement pursuant to Section 284 of the Patent Act, under which a “court may increase the damages up to three times the amount found or assessed.” In Halo, the Supreme Court rejected damages-related requirements imposed by In re Seagate Tech., LLC, a 2007 decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. With patentee litigants freed from what the Supreme Court called Seagate’s “inelastic constraints” in favor of a totality-of-circumstances approach, a consensus developed that Halo would facilitate recovery of enhanced damages. Statistics suggest alignment with that view.

Willful Infringement, Opinion Letters, & Post-Halo Trends

In one of the first district court cases to apply Halo, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania was confronted with a defendant who obtained a noninfringement opinion sometime around the final day of a 12 to 18 month project. See: Dominion Res. Inc. v. Alstom Grid Inc., No. CV 15-224, 2016 WL 5674713 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 3, 2016) (holding that the defendant’s state of mind on the final day of 12-18 month project was far too late to be defense to willfulness) (appeal pending). The court ruled that opinion letters obtained so long after infringement began, even if still during the period of infringement, did not absolve the defendant of willful infringement under a subjective recklessness standard. Shortly thereafter, the District of Delaware was confronted with a case in which the defendant obtained a noninfringement and invalidity opinion well before litigation, and the defendant even modified designs of the products at issue to conform to recommendations contained therein…