Posts Tagged: "willful infringement"

IPR Evidence and Trial Impact for Practitioners

For accused infringers relying on invalidity defenses that were presented in an inter partes review (“IPR”) to fight willful infringement allegations in district court, the shift in IPR success rates can spell trouble. Evidence of an IPR in which all asserted claims were not petitioned or some of the challenged claims were not invalidated in a final written decision can undermine willful infringement defenses. And now that Halo v. Pulse has chipped away at the high-bar of the Seagate objective prong in favor of a fact-intensive evaluation, willfulness is more likely to be a centerpiece of jury trials. See Halo Elecs., Inc. v. Pulse Elecs., Inc., No. 14-1513, 2016 WL 3221515 (U.S. June 13, 2016); In re Seagate Tech. LLC, 479 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2007) (en banc). As a result, evidence regarding the strength of and reliance on IPR-presented defenses is more likely to come into the record at trial. Petitioner-defendants need to prepare early for the possibility that evidence of perceived IPR failures will be presented to jury to avoid being left with no admissible evidence disproving willful infringement. A well-prepared defendant can even turn the tables on the patent owner by using the perceived failures to its own advantage in front of the jury.

Jury’s Willfulness Determination Affirmed Under Modified In re Seagate Standard

Stryker Corporation was awarded $70 million in lost profits after a jury found that Stryker’s patents were valid and willfully infringed by Zimmer. The district court affirmed the jury’s verdict, awarded Stryker treble damages for willful infringement, and awarded Stryker attorney’s fees. Stryker’s patents concerned portable, battery-powered, and handheld pulsed lavage devices used in orthopedic procedures to deliver pressurized irrigation for medical therapies, including cleaning wounds.

Negotiation to Sell Products Outside the US is not an Infringing Offer for Sale

The Federal Circuit again addressed whether Pulse’s domestic sales activities were either a sale or an offer for sale in the U.S. While the patent statute does not define “sale,” the Court has previously held that it carries its ordinary meaning, including the transfer of title or property. Further, a “sale” must be understood in view of the strong policy against extraterritorial liability for patent infringement. Here, no sale occurred in the U.S., because the final formation of a contract and all elements of performing the contract occurred outside the U.S.

CAFC: Reasonable Litigation Defenses No Defense to Willfulness; Permanent Injunction Denial Was Abuse of Discretion

Under the Federal Circuit’s reading of Halo, companies can no longer rely solely on reasonable litigation-inspired defenses to prevent a finding of willfulness… The Federal Circuit also found that the district court abused its discretion in failing to issue a permanent injunction. While there is a public interest in safer generators, there is also a public interest in the security of patent rights. The patent owner presented evidence that it had sufficient production abilities to satisfy market demand for the product. Finally, in similar contexts, Congress has expressly indicated that permanent injunctions may issue to prevent infringement of other life-saving goods like pharmaceuticals.

The Supreme Court should follow their own Halo advice in §101 patent eligibility decisions

Essentially, the Supreme Court told the Federal Circuit that they needed remedial reading lessons. The statute is clear: “may” means district courts have discretion. The Supreme Court also seemed instruct the Federal Circuit to stop making stuff up that clearly isn’t found within the statute. It is truly ironic, even downright funny, how the Supreme Court can so clearly see that the Federal Circuit is not being true to the simple, easy to understand, straight-forward terms of a statute but at the same time lack the capacity to similarly see that they are themselves doing the very same thing. If intellectual honesty means anything the Supreme Court would hold themselves to the same standard and stop applying judicial exceptions to patent eligibility that enjoy no textual support in the statute.

Has the Supreme Court Breathed New Life into Patent Trolls in Halo and Stryker?

The chance of a court tripling damages for patent infringement has significantly increased. The Supreme Court, Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc., et al. and Stryker Corporation, et al. v. Zimmer, Inc., et al., granted district courts more discretion to award enhanced damages for willful patent infringement. However, the Court’s recent decision could have unintended consequences. The Supreme Court’s relaxation of the requirements for willful infringement could be a game changer for patent trolls.

The Renewed Standard for Awarding Enhanced Patent Damages

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion with large ramifications for patent holders and potential infringers alike. Deciding the consolidated cases of Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc. and Stryker Corp. v. Zimmer, Inc., the Court ruled that enhanced patent damages are appropriate to punish an infringer’s egregious, deliberate, or flagrant patent infringement. The Court rejected the Federal Circuit’s Seagate test, which had provided an accused infringer with a complete defense to a charge of willfulness (and thus enhanced damages) if the infringer was able to construct, even years after the infringement began, a reasonable argument that the patent was invalid or not infringed, even where the infringer in fact had acted in bad faith. The Court also lowered the required burden of proof from clear and convincing evidence to a preponderance of the evidence. At the same time, it seems clear that mere negligence is not enough to establish entitlement to enhanced damages. While the Supreme Court referred to the 180 years of enhanced damages jurisprudence since the Patent Act of 1836 as setting forth the appropriate approach, it may take several years of additional litigation for predictability to emerge from today’s decision.

In Halo Electronics SCOTUS gives district courts discretion to award triple damages for willful infringement

Earlier today, in a unanimous decision delivered by Chief Justice John Roberts in Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc., the United States Supreme Court did what much of the patent world expected it would do, which is overrule the Federal Circuit’s “unduly rigid” test for the awarding of enhanced damages for willful damages put in place by In re Seagate Technology, LLC, 497 F. 3d 1360, 1371 (2007)(en banc).

Federal Circuit rules willfulness a prerequisite for disgorgement of trademark infringer’s profits

The Federal Circuit affirmed. Undertaking an extensive analysis of the legislative history of Lanham Act damages, the Court attempted to explain a 1999 amendment inserting language regarding willfulness. Because the “willful violation” language appears to modify violations of § 1125(c) regarding dilution, Romag argued that the amendment negated any preexisting willfulness requirement for causes of action other than dilution. Relying heavily on Second Circuit precedent, which governed the district court decision, the Court disagreed.

The Patent Scrooges: The rise and potential fall of the efficient infringers

So it now looks like this: if you are a patent owner and feel that your rights have been encroached upon, you now have to assume there will be a challenge to their validity by a potential licensee through an Inter Partes Review (IPR). If you are one of the lucky few (~25%) who survive such a challenge with at least one valid patent claim, you then have to expect an appeal. Assuming you win that appeal, then the real court battle starts in earnest and you’ll have to face what has now become a $3-5M ordeal in legal fees to get through a full trial on the merits and the routinely filed appeal should you beat all odds and win. Treble damages for willful infringement have been rarer than a dodo bird sighting and even winning does not mean you will collect your money any time soon, as the Apple-Samsung saga has recently shown.

2015 Supreme Court Term: Cert Petitions to Watch

Since the start of the Supreme Court’s term in October, the Court has already agreed to hear two patent cases, Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc. and Stryker Corp. v. Zimmer, Inc. Both cases address the issue of willful infringement and when it is appropriate for a court to award enhanced damages under 35 U.S.C. § 284. The only question that remains is whether the Court will continue its recent trend of taking three or more patent cases a term, or whether it will revert to its longer term average of accepting only one to two patent cases. Against the wider backdrop of the Supreme Court’s shrinking merits docket, it is notable that patent law consistently draws the attention of the Court under Chief Justice Roberts. Here we take a look at four cert petitions raising patent law issues, and handicap the odds of being granted.

History Repeating Itself at the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court recently decided to review a pair of cases that challenge the Federal Circuit’s willful infringement test. The two cases, Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc, (14-1513) and Stryker Corporation v. Zimmer, Inc. (14-1520), are drawing comparisons from commentators to the Court’s Octane Fitness, LLC v. ICON Health and Fitness, Inc. ruling last term based on the similar structure of the tests and statutory language reviewed in both cases. However, another recent SCOTUS case dealing with induced infringement, Commil USA, LLC v. Cisco Systems, Inc., may also shed some light on how the Court will think about willful infringement, since both doctrines center around the defendant’s intent.

Will the Supreme Court bring balance back to the patent market?

Patent damages generally, and enhanced damages specifically, are a patent political powder keg because there are so many corporations that are users of technology. These technology using, or technology usurping, corporations would rather not have to worry about the consequences of infringing patents. This has caused the so-called infringer lobby to put a premium on the issue of damages, specifically advocating positions that would minimize patent damages. Indeed, the infringer lobby has done an excellent job weakening patent rights and impairing the enforceability of patents over the last decade, both in the federal courts and on Capitol Hill. The Supreme Court has even several times mentioned the patent troll problem without the issue being before the Court and neither party being accused of being a troll.

SCOTUS takes case on awarding enhanced damages for patent infringement

The United States Supreme Court accepted certiorari in two patent cases, which will require the court to determine whether district court judges should have discretion to award victorious patentees with enhanced damages under 35 U.S.C. § 284. While predicting the outcome of a Supreme Court decision is always speculative, this case should be one of the easiest outcomes to predict ever. Unless the Supreme Court fundamentally alters its statutory interpretation from the Octane Fitness case, arbitrarily creating a distinction without a difference, the Supreme Court will grant district courts the same broad discretion on enhanced damages that they have been given with respect to awarding attorneys fees.

Litigation Formulated Invalidity Challenge Can Prevent Enhanced Damages for Willful Infringement

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) sued Marvell Technology Group for infringing two patents related to a detector for reading data stored on hard-disk drives. A jury returned a verdict for CMU, and awarded $1.17 billion as a reasonable royalty for infringement, based on a royalty of 50 cents per chip. The district court increased the damages by 23% for willful infringement and entered a verdict of $1.54 billion in damages, plus a continuing royalty of 50 cents per chip. Marvel challenged the enhancement of damages for willfulness. While Marvell’s chips blatantly copied the CMU patents, Marvell’s invalidity defenses raised in litigation were not objectively unreasonable.