Posts Tagged: "willful infringement"

CAFC Affirms California Court’s Claim Construction and Damages Calculation in Flash Drive Infringement Suit

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California from an appeal by Kingston Technology Company LLC, in which the district court held that Kingston willfully infringed U.S. Patent No. 6,926,544 (‘544 patent) and awarded $7,515,327.40 in compensatory damages. The CAFC said in part that the district court can judicially correct claims when there are “obvious minor typographical and clerical errors in patents” without changing the scope of the claim.  

Amici Back Cisco’s Bid for SCOTUS Review of Enhanced Damages Standard

Comcast and the High Tech Inventors Alliance (HTIA) filed amicus briefs last week backing a Supreme Court petition brought by Cisco Systems, Inc. last month. The petition asks the Court to consider whether: 1) enhanced damages may be awarded absent a finding of egregious infringement behavior; and 2) whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) may award enhanced damages without first allowing the district court to exercise its discretion to decide that issue. Cisco filed the petition for a writ of certiorari on March 16, following a November 2021 decision of the Federal Circuit that reversed a district court’s denial of SRI International’s motion to reinstate a jury’s willfulness verdict against Cisco. That ruling restored the district court’s award of enhanced damages and affirmed an award of attorney fees for SRI. The CAFC specifically clarified that its reference to language in the Supreme Court’s ruling in Halo Elecs., Inc. v. Pulse Elecs., Inc., 136 S. Ct. 1923, 1934 (2016) on a first appeal in the case was not meant to create a heightened requirement for willful infringement.

Coons and Hirono Raise Concerns Over Pride in Patent Ownership Act Penalties

During a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s IP Subcommittee today, Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) were the only senators present to question the Pride in Patent Ownership Act’s (PPOA’s) approach to penalizing patent owners who fail to record accurate ownership information within 90 days after the issuance date. The hearing included testimony from four witnesses on the topic of the PPOA introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) in September. Leahy explained in his introduction that the same fundamental principle of disclosure that underpins issuance of a patent should extend to patent ownership information. There is presently no requirement that ownership information be publicly available after a patent issues.

CAFC Clarifies Willful Infringement Standard, Reinstating Jury Verdict and Enhanced Damages for SRI International

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today issued a precedential opinion reversing a district court’s denial of SRI International’s motion to reinstate the jury’s willfulness verdict against Cisco Systems, Inc., restoring the district court’s award of enhanced damages, and affirming an award of attorney fees for SRI. The CAFC specifically clarified that its reference to language in the Supreme Court’s ruling in Halo Elecs., Inc. v. Pulse Elecs., Inc., 136 S. Ct. 1923, 1934 (2016) on a first appeal in the case was not meant to create a heightened requirement for willful infringement. Judge Lourie authored the opinion.

Trademark Bar Cheers for ‘Good News in a Gloomy Time’ with High Court’s Romag Fasteners Holding

In his second foray into intellectual property law this week, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court today in Romag Fasteners v. Fossil Group Inc., reversing the Federal Circuit’s August 2017 decision and holding that willful infringement is only one consideration for awarding an infringer’s profits, and that 15 U.S.C. Section 1117(a) of does not articulate a willfulness prerequisite. Most attorneys who weighed in for IPWatchdog welcomed the decision as providing clarity and being pro-IP. Here is what they had to say.

Supreme Court’s Unanimous Decision in Romag Fasteners Resolves Split on Trademark Infringers’ Profits, But Raises Questions

Circuits have long split over whether willfulness is required before a trademark infringer’s profits may be awarded. Section 1117(a) of the Lanham Act allows an award of profits “subject to principles of equity.” In Romag v. Fossil, the jury awarded Fossil’s $6.7 million in profits to Romag to deter infringement, even though the jury found only 1% of those profits were attributable to the infringement. However, because the jury found Fossil infringed “in callous disregard” but not willfully, the Federal Circuit refused to allow the award of Fossil’s profits. The Supreme Court disagreed, reversing the Federal Circuit in today’s decision. Instead, “mental state” or “mens rea” is only a consideration for an award of the infringer’s profits, albeit an “important” or “highly important” consideration. The Court gave nodding mention to the substantial competing policy-based arguments submitted by both parties and amicus briefing and fleshed out further at oral argument. But ultimately, the decision stuck closely to the statutory language, finding Section 1117(a) could not support the weight of a willfulness prerequisite.

CAFC Affirms District Court Judgment on Coffee Cartridge Patents

On January 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential decision affirming the District Court’s judgment of invalidity as to the asserted claims of U.S. Patent No. 8,720,320 (the ‘320 patent) and the award of attorney’s fees. The CAFC also affirmed the ruling of infringement as to the asserted claims of U.S. Patent No. 8,707,855 (the ‘855 patent). Adrian Rivera and Adrian Rivera Maynez Enterprises, Inc. (ARM), owner of the ‘320 patent, initiated the lawsuit against Eko Brands LLC (Eko), owner of the ‘855 patent. ARM claimed Eko infringed claims 5-8 and 18-20 of the ‘320 patent.

Supreme Court Poised to Reverse CAFC Trademark Decision on Willfulness as Prerequisite for Profits Award

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Romag Fasteners v. Fossil, Inc., Fossil Stores, I. Inc., Macy’s Inc, and Macy’s Retail Holdings, Inc. to decide whether a successful trademark plaintiff must establish that infringement was willful as a hard prerequisite to an award of the infringer’s profits, rather than being just one of multiple factors to be weighed when determining entitlement to a profits award. Under the latter scheme, profits may be awardable even if the infringement was not willful. Taking the Justices’ comments at face value, it seems likely that Romag will prevail and profits may be disgorged for less-than willful infringement.

Final Briefs Filed with SCOTUS in Romag Fasteners Case on Trademark Infringement Damages

On November 27, briefing concluded at the Supreme Court with the filing of Fossil’s respondent’s brief in Romag Fasteners, Inc., v. Fossil, Inc., et al. The final briefing sets the stage for the Court to hear the case on January 14, 2020. The Court will hopefully resolve a current Circuit split on the availability of disgorgement of profits as damages for trademark infringement. Currently, the First, Second, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth and D.C. Circuits all require willful infringement before allowing disgorgement of an infringer’s profits (the First Circuit requires willfulness if the parties are not direct competitors and there is also some disagreement on where the Eighth Circuit falls on the issue). The Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eleventh Circuits all allow for disgorgement of profits without willful infringement. There has been a Circuit split for some time on this issue and the Supreme Court previously denied certiorari on similar cases but the Court is now set to resolve the split.

Romag Fasteners: IPO Departs From Other Amici in Urging SCOTUS to Require Willfulness to Award Trademark Profits

The Intellectual Property Owners Association and four other associations have filed amicus briefs with the Supreme Court in the case of Romag Fasteners v. Fossil, Inc., Fossil Stores, I. Inc., Macy’s Inc, and Macy’s Retail Holdings, Inc. The case will examine whether lower courts have discretion under the Lanham Act with respect to how to award damages in trademark infringement cases, or whether courts are required to establish that the infringement was willful before awarding profits. While the American Bar Association (ABA), the International Trademark Association (INTA), the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) and the Intellectual Property Law Association of Chicago (IPLAC) support adopting a more flexible approach that would not make willfulness a prerequisite to recover profits, IPO argues that the plain language of the statute necessitates such a requirement.

Federal Circuit Vacates and Remands District Court’s Infringement and Willfulness Findings in Omega Patents v. CalAmp

On April 8, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in Omega Patents, LLC v. CalAmp Corp. that reversed and vacated a district court’s ruling that CalAmp had directly infringed certain patent claims asserted by Omega. While the Federal Circuit did affirm that CalAmp directly infringed one of the asserted claims, it vacated and remanded on a number of the district court’s other findings. The decision was issued by a panel including Chief Judge Sharon Prost and Circuit Judges Timothy Dyk and Evan Wallach. Omega’s allegations of patent infringement centered on CalAmp’s sale of Location Messaging Unit (LMU) products that assist businesses and government entities by tracking fleets of vehicles and retrieving vehicle information such as battery health and speed for remote monitoring. A jury verdict in the Middle District of Florida held that all asserted claims were not invalid, were infringed, and that CalAmp had committed willful patent infringement. The jury awarded compensatory damages of $2.98 million and the judge trebled that damages award and added attorney’s fees, damages for sales subsequent to the jury verdict and pre-judgment interest, increasing the monetary award to about $15 million with an ongoing royalty rate of $12.76 per sale of infringing unit by CalAmp.

Strategies for Preparing Infringement and Validity Opinions

A company must be strategic in any business decision it makes in order to ensure that it takes the necessary measures to avoid liability for its actions. With respect to patent infringement, and specifically willful patent infringement, the different approaches to determining which measures to take and when to take such measures have been repeatedly challenged in light of a number of court decisions in recent years. To set the scene, the Federal Circuit held in Underwater Devices Inc. v. Morrison-Knudsen Co., 717 F.2d 1380 (1983) that a potential infringer has an affirmative duty to exercise due care to determine whether or not he or she is infringing. This placed the burden on the potential infringer to seek competent counsel and obtain either a non-infringement opinion or invalidity opinion prior to undertaking the possible infringing activities. This would prevent a finding of willful infringement and treble damages.

Judge Awards Enhancement of Damages to $268 Million in Cochlear Implant Patent Case

“While the jury’s $130 million verdict is significant and may sound large in the abstract, it may not be enough without enhancement to deter infringing conduct given the context of this case,” Judge Olguin wrote. Evidence presented at trial shows that the infringing products sold by Cochlear generated $1.8 billion in revenues. Cochlear had publicly stated in a 2016 annual report that the jury’s verdict won’t disrupt Cochlear’s business or U.S. customers.

Apple to pay VirnetX $93.4 million in costs and interest for patent infringement

On Monday, September 25th, Zephyr Cove, NV-based patent owner VirnetX Holding Corporation filed a Form 8-K with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding an agreement between that firm and Cupertino, CA-based consumer electronics giant Apple on costs and prejudgment interest related to the ongoing patent infringement proceedings between the two companies. A press release attached to the Form 8-K indicates that VirnetX and Apple agree to add costs and prejudgment interest of $93.4 million to the $502.6 million patent infringement verdict awarded to VirnetX in district court.

IBM Wins $82.5 Million Award Against Groupon in Jury Verdict

On July 27th, a jury verdict entered into the District of Delaware awarded $82.5 million in reasonable royalties to information technology giant IBM after that company asserted a series of patents against e-commerce marketplace provider Groupon. The jury determined that Groupon infringed on a series of four patents asserted by IBM.