Sunday, October 21, 2007

New Ruling on Willful Infringement Will Help Innovation but Hurt Patent Owners

Patent infringement lawyer Nick Johnson of Johnson Law Group (, with principal offices in Houston, Texas, believes that the new appeals court ruling redefining willful infringement has both advantages and disadvantages.
"The ruling has made it substantially more difficult to prove willful infringement and will therefore cut down on lawsuits," says Nick Johnson. "On one hand it promotes innovation but on the other hand it hurts the patent owners."

In August 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit made it more difficult to prove intentional patent infringement. The accuser must show "clear and convincing evidence that the infringer acted despite an objectively high likelihood that its actions constituted infringement of a valid patent." This move upped the ante for patent owners that want to earn higher damages. They can be as much as tripled if they can prove that the defendants knew they were infringing a patent and did so anyway.

The Federal Circuit ruling on a suit against hard-drive vendor Seagate Technology automatically changed the standard in all federal courts. The ruling could change other pending cases as well.

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