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2016 Is Looking Great for Patent Law

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. | Last updated on

The new year just started, but already there are a number of high profile patent cases brewing. The cases of Halo and Stryker will especially carry the attention of all IP lawyer.

Not far behind the twin cases is a hoard of patent cases all pending cert. 2016 promises to be a very fruitful year for patent law.

Halo and Stryker: Double Damage

It was actually in October of 2015 that this nation's highest court granted petitions for writ of certiorari to two cases regarding the issue of enhanced damages: Stryker Corp v. Zimmer and Halo Electronics v. Pulse Electronics. Though these are two separate cases arising out of two separate transactions, the Court consolidated them both for one hour oral arguments because they both turn on proper application of 35 U.S.C sec 284 -- "treble damages" for patent infringement.

Unfortunately, the aforementioned section of the U.S.C. does not talk about prerequisites for treble damages. But a later string of cases at the Federal Circuit level confirmed that willfulness was required; as well as the the plaintiff's proving by clear-and-convincing evidence a handful of other elements. In re Seagate Tech; Bard Peripheral Vascular, Inc. However, case after case would further complicate the issue with regard to extenuating circumstances and adequate defenses.

The High Court's decision to review the twin cases of Halo and Stryker should offer some much desired clarity at what the patent climate will be.

Other Important Cases Pending Cert.

So far only the two cases mentioned above are confirmed for SCOTUS review 2016. But here are a few cases pending cert.

  • Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple Inc. -- Design issues as well as breadth of damages case
  • Vermont v. MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC -- Case involving federal jurisdiction in a consumer complaint "trolling" case.
  • Alps South, LLC v. The Ohio Willow Wood Company -- Another jurisdictional case that could also have implications for pleading practice.
  • Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., et al. -- Regarding the question of whether actions that are "not objectively reasonable" can really amount to inducement.

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