Mayhall Fondren Blaize

Patent infringement is a source of business litigation cases

Patent infringement litigation is a continuing source of significant business litigation cases in Louisiana and nationwide. A jury award and a court's ruling in a case from another state is an example of how recoveries in patent infringement cases can be compelling for the winning party. A medical instrument company received a $248.7 million award from a federal judge who decided to triple the jury's award due to willful and egregious infringement by the defendant company in this business litigation case.

The plaintiff, Stryker Corp., makes medical instruments, and owns a patent for a motorized squirt gun and suction device that is used to rinse and vacuum surgical sites during surgery. A competitor, Zimmer Biomet, engaged in willful and egregious infringement, including the failure to turn over evidence during trial, according to the U.S. District Court judge who presided over the conflict. The judge tripled the jury's $70 million verdict due to his findings of egregious violations by Zimmer.

The court also factored into the decision the fact that Zimmer did nothing to mitigate damages or to stop the ongoing infringement during the two years of litigation. Indeed, Zimmer did not stop its infringement activities even after the jury's verdict was entered, according to the district court judge. Zimmer took an appeal on the judge's ruling and obtained a reversal of the triple damages aspect of the case.

However, the U.S. Supreme Court took up the issue of triple damages in patent cases and remanded the case back to the district court judge for further proceedings. The Supreme Court decision is a likely victory for those who argue for expanded action to stop patent infringement violators who act willfully and egregiously. In prior business litigation cases on the subject, the Supreme Court gave federal district court judges the discretion to enhance patent infringement damages when appropriate, a ruling that applies to all federal district courts, including in Louisiana.  

Source: mlive.com, "Stryker Corp. wins $248.7M judgment in 'egregious' patent case", Jim Harger, July 17, 2017

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