By Paulius Jurcys – Yaping Zhang
Order: Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2015) (denial of rehearing en banc)
Concurring opinion (October 22, 2014)
On March 23, 2015, Federal Circuit issued an order concerning the interpretation of willful patent infringement in Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc. Halo initiated the patent infringement proceedings and invoked section 35 U.S.C. § 284 which allows the court to increase the damages up to three times the amount found or assessed if the infringement is found willful or in bad faith.
The defendant, Pulse, argued that the patent was obvious and that they did not infringe the Halo’s patent. However, the jury found for the plaintiff and also that “it was highly probable that Pulse’s infringement was willful.” Halo Elecs., Inc. v. Pulse Electronics., Inc., No. 2:07-cv-00331-PMP-PAL, 2013 BL 219401 (D. Nev. August 6, 2013). The Federal Circuit affirmed the district court judgment and left a $1.5 million jury award for infringement to patent holder Halo Electronics Inc. intact. It also affirmed the decision not to enhance the award for willfulness under 35 U.S.C. § 284.
Halo v Pulse is a stepping stone in recent trends in patent law to reduce situations in which the alleged patent infringer must face treble damages. In one of the recent cases In re Seagate Tech., the Federal Circuit introduced a two-prong test: (1) the patentee has to show, by clear and convincing evidence, “that the infringer acted despite an objectively high likelihood that its actions constituted infringement of a valid patent.” If this objective requirement is met, (2) the patentee must then prove alleged infringer’s “subjective recklessness”, i.e., that the objectively defined risk was either known or should have been known to the alleged infringer. In re Seagate Tech., LLC, 497 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2007).