WesternGeco LLC, v. ION Geophysical Corp.

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Patents
  • Date Filed: January 12, 2018
  • Case #: 16-1011
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 837 F.3d 1358 (Fed. Cir. 2016)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit erred in holding that lost profits arising from prohibited combinations occurring outside of the United States are categorically unavailable in cases in which patent infringement is proven under 35 U.S.C. § 271(f).

Petitioner sought enhanced damages for willful patent infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 284. The district court denied enhanced damages because Respondent’s infringement was reasonable and not objectively baseless per In re Seagate, LLC, 497 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2007) (en banc). The Federal Circuit Court reversed Petitioner’s lost profits award based on the Seagate test. WesternGeco L.L.C. v. ION Geophysical Corp. (“WesternGeco II”), 791 F.3d 1340 (Fed. Cir. 2015). The Supreme Court granted certiorari to Petitioner and issued a GVR order in light of the Court’s decision in Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc., 136 S. Ct. 1923 (2016). Pursuant to Halo Electronics, “The subjective willfulness of a patent infringer, intentional or knowing, may warrant enhanced damages, without regard to whether his infringement was objectively reckless.” Awards of enhanced damages are within the discretion of the district court. 136 S. Ct. at 1933.  The Federal Circuit ruled that Halo was concerned only with 35 U.S.C. § 284 and therefore inapplicable to the present case. On appeal, Petitioner argues that infringers under § 271(f) should be liable for the same damages available under § 284 based on a “clear indication” from Congress that § 271(f) was intended to extend extraterritorially.

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