Supreme Court ruling favors punitives for patentees
The Supreme Court favored patentees Stryker and Halo Electronics in June 13's decision on punitive damages in patent cases. The Supreme Court found that the standard of the CAFC was too rigid and that trial judges should have more leeway.
In one, medical-device maker Stryker Corp. convinced a jury that subsidiaries of rival Zimmer Biomet Holdings Inc. willfully infringed its patents on hand-held devices used to clean wounds. Jurors awarded Stryker $70 million for lost profits. The presiding judge, citing testimony that Zimmer deliberately copied Stryker’s devices, then tripled the damages award.
Stryker lost the enhanced award at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which ruled Zimmer shouldn’t have to pay the extra money because its legal defenses, while unsuccessful, weren’t unreasonable or entirely baseless.
The Supreme Court said that ruling was incorrect.
In a second case, Halo Electronics Inc., which makes components used in computers and other devices, obtained $1.5 million in infringement damages from Pulse Electronics Corp., but failed to persuade the Federal Circuit that enhanced damages were merited.