The standard for willful patent infringement will be reviewed this term by the Supreme Court of the United States, as reported by SCOTUSblog. The Court agreed to accept two cases that involve the issue of enchanced damages in patent infringement litigation, Halo Electronics v. Pulse Electronics, and Stryker Corp v. Zimmer. Under the Patent Act, the owner of a patent may seek triple damages where willful infringement has been proven. The Supreme Court is expected to consider the proper framework for determining whether infringement in a particular case is willful. A decision in these consolidated cases will be rendered by June 2016. 

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The Supreme Court today ruled unanimously that the burden of proving patent infringement rests with the patent holder, even in cases where the parties had agreed upon a licensing deal in the past.  

The case at issue, Medtronic, Inc. v. Mirowski Family Ventures, involved implantable heart stimulation devices (pacemakers) which were licensed by Mirowski to Medtronic in 1991. In late 2007, Medtronic filed an action with the U.S. District Court of Delaware seeking declaratory relief that its new line of devices did not infringe upon the Mirowski patents.  The trial court entered a judgment of non-infringement in Medtronic's favor, which was reversed in 2012 by the Federal Circuit, based on a holding that the trial court did not properly allocate the burden of proof in the initial proceedings.

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The Supreme Court has granted cert on several new cases today including four relating to intellectual property issues, including a copyright case, a trademark case, as well as two patent cases. Lyle Denniston of the Scotus Blog reports that the new cases will probably be argued in April, the last sitting of the term.

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One of a handful of patent cases accepted by the Supreme Court this term, Icon Fitness v. Octane Health and Fitness presents the question of whether Brooks Mfg. v. Dutailier, Inc., 393 F.3d 1378 (Fed. Cir. 2005) should be overturned to the extent that it “shoehorned” the rigid, two-part test for sham litigation into the Patent Act’s test for fee shifting. The petitioner, Octane Fitness, LLC, recently filed its brief arguing that the standard should be relaxed and raises several notable points.

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