EcoServices, LLC v. Certified Aviation Services, LLC (Order on Motions in Limine, June 19, 2018)

In this matter, Defendant sought to exclude evidence upon which Plaintiff’s damages expert relied for his reasonable royalty analysis.  Specifically, Defendant argued that lost profits should not be considered when conducting a reasonable royalty analysis.

The court, however, disagreed and offered a declarative view.

We have seen this Defendant’s argument floated numerous times over the years, and judges reliably explain that consideration of lost profits is rightfully relevant for the hypothetical negotiation construct.

It is relevant to Georgia Pacific Factor #5 (i.e., whether the licensor and licensee are competitors).

It is relevant to Georgia Pacific Factor #13 (i.e., the portion of the realizable profit that should be credited to the invention).

Last year, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled similarly in Asetek v. CMI:

Some subset of attorneys will likely continue to pursue the “No lost profits consideration!” line of attack.  We expect them to continue to encounter a judicial wall of adverse rulings that make pointless the time & effort.

Power Integrations, Inc. v. Fairchild Semiconductor International, et al. (Federal Circuit Opinion, July 3, 2018)

This recent opinion is a lesson in, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” and for defendant Fairchild, the third time proved the charm.

You see, when plaintiff’s damages expert, Dr. Putnam, first offered his opinion that the parties at the hypothetical negotiation would anticipate “lost sales, reduction in price due to competition, and lost licensing fees,” A2C doubted Judge Chesney would approve such methodology.  When she did (on two occasions), we figured that the Federal Circuit would finally disapprove of the reduction-in-price analysis.

Alas, the Federal Circuit remanded this matter for a new damages trial… but not on the reduction-in-price analysis issue of interest to us.  Rather, the remand was based on misapplication of the entire market value rule.

This litigation began years ago.  At the first trial, the jury found that all but one patent was infringed and awarded Power Integrations $105 million.  Less than a week after Judge Chesney’s denial of the JMOL on that verdict, the Federal Circuit issued its opinion in VirnetX.  Accordingly, Fairchild requested – and was granted – a new damages trial based on violation of the entire market value rule.  That ensuing trial, as the Federal Circuit observes in this recent opinion, resulted in a verdict of $139.8 million “based on damages testimony that relied solely on the entire market value rule.” An additional question on the verdict form asked whether the patented feature created the basis for consumer demand, to which the jury marked, “Yes.”  After that trial and subsequent denial on JMOL, Fairchild appealed to the Federal Circuit which ruled in favor of Fairchild and remanded for further proceedings.

While much of this Federal Circuit opinion constitutes a summary of past entire market value rule matters, the court did provide the following valuable and pointed guidance for attorneys & damages experts alike:

With regard to the case at hand, Fairchild reaps the reward of determination:

 

Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. et al. (Jury Verdict May 24, 2018)

Yesterday, a jury awarded Apple $533 million for the infringement of its design patents.  In doing so, the jury appears to afford design patents more value than patents supporting the underlying technology in a smart phone.  How could this determination have happened?

We think it useful to provide background to explain how this jury verdict came to be.

First, consider that this case revolves around the definition of the term “article of manufacture.”  The Supreme Court explained, “Section 289 of the Patent Act makes it unlawful to manufacture or sell an ‘article of manufacture’ to which a patented design or a colorable imitation thereof has been applied and makes an infringer liable to the patent holder ‘to the extent of his total profit.’ 35 U.S.C. §289.”

Way back in April 2011, Apple sued Samsung for infringement of (among other patents and a trade dress claim) three design patents which roughly cover: 1) a black, rectangular front screen face, 2) a front face with rounded corners and a bezel, and 3) a grid of colorful icons displayed on the screen face.  Judge Koh issued opinions on Daubert motions and the case went to a jury trial.

Samsung’s products were found to infringe multiple patents and found to violate trade dress allegations: as a result, a jury verdict awarded Apple close to $1 billion.  Judge Koh issued judgment for that jury verdict.

Samsung appealed to the Federal Circuit multiple times, and what remained for this most recent jury was the question of the monetary remedy associated with design patent infringement (N.b., there was an additional patent at issue which we are not discussing here).  During the appeals process, the Federal Circuit affirmed that the article of manufacture subject to disgorgement in this design patent matter should be the entire phone, because no portion was sold separately that might constitute a smaller, distinct article of manufacture.  Samsung appealed to the Supreme Court, which provided little guidance other than to observe that the Federal Circuit’s definition of the article of manufacture was too narrow.  Specifically, the Court found, “Because the term ‘article of manufacture’ is broad enough to embrace both a product sold to a consumer and a component of that product, whether sold separately or not, the Federal Circuit’s narrower reading cannot be squared with §289’s text.”

The Federal Circuit then issued an opinion and remanded the case back to Judge Koh for further proceedings; and specifically to articulate a test to define an article of manufacture.  In her order for a new trial on damages, Judge Koh provided the following definition of an “article of manufacture”:

After providing the new definition, expert reports were submitted, subject to new rounds of Daubert motions, resulting in new Daubert rulings.  Judge Koh excluded Samsung’s damages expert, Mr. Wagner, for relying on surveys that did not properly tie to the facts of the case or to the patents’ footprint in the marketplace.  Ms. Davis, Apple’s damages expert, was allowed to testify, but neither expert could offer opinions regarding the actual “article of manufacture,” which was left to other experts.

The jury instructions arguably led jurors to an inevitable verdict.  The instructions specifically guided those jurors through the requisite analysis to arrive at disgorgement of total profits:

No doubt, Samsung will appeal.

Again.

Chrimar Holding Company, LLC et al. v. ALE USA Inc. et al. (Federal Circuit – Decided May 8, 2018)

Plaintiff damages expert Robert Mills had his analysis excluded in part by Judge Love of the Eastern District of Texas.  The part that was not excluded formed Mr. Mills’ testimony in trial which resulted in a damages award of $324,558 for ALE’s patent infringement.

ALE challenged the damages award at the Federal Circuit stating that, “Mr. Mills, in calculating a reasonable royalty,  (1) relied on licenses not comparable to the hypothetical negotiation for the present case; (2) did not adequately separate the value of patented features from the value of standardization and the value of nonpatented features; and (3) prejudicially referred to ALE’s total net revenue and profit.”  The Federal Circuit sided with Chrimar and found ALE’s arguments wanting.

With regard to the first issue, the court noted that there was not sufficient basis to exclude Mr. Mills in the Daubert motion nor in the JMOL phase of the matter, and that his license analysis satisfied the standard of “reasonable adjustments for differences in contexts.”

Regarding the second issue, the court said that Mr. Mills relied upon a standards expert, and a damages expert has right to do so for their own opinion.

Finally, for the third issue, the court explained that it was ALE itself which had first “opened the door” to introduction of defendant’s net revenue.

As in Exmark v. Briggs, the court appears perhaps to afford EMV somewhat greater latitude as part of a comparable license approach, especially where licenses make reference to a unit larger than what might otherwise be considered “the smallest saleable unit” under other analytic approaches to damages.

Johns Hopkins University v. Alcon Laboratories, Inc. et al. (Order Issued April 25, 2018)

Judge Lawrence Stengel of the District of Delaware, Sitting by Designation, approved and adopted the recommendations of Magistrate Judge Sherry Fallon.  Among other recommendations, Judge Fallon recommended denying the motion to exclude plaintiff’s damages expert.

The case involves a method patent for performing eye surgery.  Alcon moved to exclude Brian Napper, plaintiff’s expert, based on alleged violation of the entire market value rule for his use of product and ancillary sales in his royalty base.  Mr. Napper relied upon a comparable patent licensing analysis to support his royalty base which included more than the accused cannula at issue.

Citing to Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (“CSIRO”) v. Cisco, Judge Fallon noted that the royalty base in the comparable license and the one contemplated by Mr. Napper were the same.

Judge Fallon also noted that Mr. Napper provided some accounting for non-infringing uses.  Accordingly, she recommended denying the Daubert motion related to these issues.

An additional issue that arose in the motions for summary judgment was whether the reasonable royalty could be tied to defendant’s sales.  Alcon explained that Alcon would not infringe the patented method because it only sells products; it does not use the products in an infringing manner.  Thus, Alcon reasoned, its sales are not the proper royalty base.  Judge Fallon denied Alcon’s motion because Johns Hopkins showed that the product was purchased for use in an infringing way and because both damages experts (for plaintiff and for defendant) used Alcon sales as the basis for their royalty base.

Ericsson Inc., et al. v. TCL Communication Technology Holdings, LTD., et al. – Part 3 (Jury Verdict Reinstated May 10, 2018)

Yesterday, this blog witnessed a sudden surge in search-engine referrals for Ericsson v. TCL. Our earlier posts on this matter are located here and here. A summary of the damages issues is newly-provided by the court:

In an unexpected turn of events, Judge Payne has reconsidered his decision to vacate the jury verdict and has reinstated the previous award.

The crux of Judge Payne’s reversal hinges on his reconsideration of whether “the Daubert filter” was called for in this matter.  Previously, he had concluded that it was; in his reversal, however, he decides instead that trial afforded sufficient opportunity to defendant to address issues of evidentiary weight.

With regard to the prior conclusion that future products – neither existing nor practicing – were improperly “accused” and thereby improperly made subject to damages, the indeterminate nature of a jury’s decision making now affords the plaintiff its award:

Judge Payne not only affirmed the jury’s verdict of $75 million, but he made the award subject to a $25 million enhancement.

His lengthy discussion of “willfullness” provides useful background to the topic and includes the pithy observation that, “One juror’s ‘malicious’ conduct might be another’s benign competitive business activity.” Finally, Judge Payne concludes:

We admit that we did not foresee Judge Payne’s reconsideration; we suspect TCL is even more surprised.  Yesterday’s developments make a “Part 4” seemingly inevitable.

Columbia Sportswear North America, Inc. v. Seirus Innovative Accessories, Inc. (Opinion April 17, 2018)

In yet another case, a judge has ruled that an appropriate prejudgment interest rate is the California statutory rate of 7%.

The case in question involved a design patent and an apparatus patent.  A jury found the apparatus patent invalid; however, it found the design patent infringed, and those claims not invalid.  As a result, the jury awarded the infringer’s profits to the plaintiff, Columbia Sportswear.

After trial and after judgment was rendered, Columbia Sportswear requested the California 7% statutory rate as prejudgment interest, as well as supplemental lost profits.  Judge Marco Hernandez from the Southern District of California awarded both, despite defendant Seirus’ arguments that awarding seven percent interest on top of profits would deprive it of more than it originally earned. The justification for the amount was as follows:

“Prejudgment interest removes the incentive to live off of the profits until caught.” This elegant formulation enjoys enormous economic and judicial leverage.

There is, however, a flip-side….

Court’s recourse to a 7% statutory rate set decades ago divorces compensation from the facts of a case, relies on a rate detached from current financial and economic reality, and we would argue is inappropriate for most awards.

Whirlpool v. TST Water (Judgment March 29, 2018)

Eastern District of Texas Judge Gilstrap denied TST’s motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law in this patent infringement case.  The jury award of $7.6 million stands.

Mr. Bruce McFarlene, Whirpool’s damages expert, offered the opinion that damages for infringement of the ‘894 patent should be $8.7 million.  TST sought to exclude Mr. McFarlene for violation of the entire market value rule; however, prior to the ruling, the parties had stipulated that a filter at issue was the smallest saleable unit.

When TST moved for judgment as a matter of law based upon for Mr. McFarlene’s failure to apportion, Judge Gilstrap reminded the parties of their stipulation and concluded that Mr. McFarlene “did engage in the proper apportionment required by the law, beginning with an appropriate rate.”

Rembrandt Wireless Technologies, LP v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., et al. (Final Judgment March 28, 2018)

The long-running dispute between Rembrandt and Samsung may be over.  Eastern District of Texas Judge Gilstrap issued final judgment in which he determined that Samsung owes Rembrandt $11,111,920 as damages for Samsung’s infringement of the ‘580 and ‘228 patents. This judgment came after years of litigation, after a February 2015 jury verdict, after a ruling on a JMOL, and after an appeal to the Federal Circuit.

In February 2015, a jury determined that Samsung infringed both patents and that the patent claims were not invalid.  The jury awarded Rembrandt a lump sum of $15.7 million.  Judge Gilstrap determined that this award fell within the range offered by Mr. Roy Weinstein (Rembrandt’s damages expert), who had suggested a damages range of $14.5 million to $31.9 million.  Judge Gilstrap denied the JMOL on damages, and Samsung appealed to the Federal Circuit.

The Federal Circuit agreed with Judge Gilstrap’s opinions regarding infringement and damages, but it questioned his decision to allow Rembrandt to recover pre-notice damages.  In its defensive case, it appears Samsung argued that a licensee of Rembrandt’s practiced claim 40 of the ‘580 patent, but that Rembrandt did not require said-licensee to mark those products.  In response, Rembrandt disclaimed said-claim 40 which Samsung argued said-licensee practiced.  Rembrandt then successfully argued to the district court that, because it disclaimed said-claim 40 of the ‘580 patent, there was no marking requirement for the Rembrandt licensee, who did not practice any other claim of the ‘580 patent.  On appeal, the Federal Circuit questioned the district court’s allowance of pre-notice damages based upon disclaiming a claim, and remanded the case for adjustment of the damages award.

The Federal Circuit was interested in discussing whether the marking statute should be on a patent-by-patent basis – or instead, a claim-by-claim basis.  But it did not offer any definitive determination and instead left decision on the matter to the district court.  Ultimately, Rembrandt dropped its pre-notice damages award request, and accordingly, Judge Gilstrap left the patent-by-patent/claim-by-claim marking issue for another day.

The only remaining issue was how best to interpret the jury verdict in order to remove pre-notice damages.  Both parties volunteered competing guidance to Judge Gilstrap concerning how best to remove the pre-notice damages:

Ultimately, Judge Gilstrap decided Rembrandt’s method made more sense and that damages should be $11,111,920, to reflect the jury award minus the pre-notice time period.

Which all leads us to proclaim that the strategy of seeking to reclaim pre-notice damages by disclaiming a claimed claim is one meritorious of some acclaim….

Greatbatch Ltd. v. AVX Corp. and AVX Filters Corp. Court Grants Motion to Set Aside Verdict (March 30, 2018)

Delaware District Court Judge Stark granted AVX’s motion to set aside the damages verdict.  The reason for the set aside was solely because the jury verdict form did not separate damages for each patent accused, and thus constituted a damages award for all patents and all products.

Judge Stark himself observes this case possesses “a convoluted history.”  It seems that Judge Stark sanctioned AVX because of its late production of core technical documents relevant to the infringement issues on one of the four patents in suit (i.e., the ‘715 patent).  The sanctions levied involved the judge granting a motion for summary judgment that all of AVX’s Ingenio products infringed the ‘715 patent. When the case proceeded to trial concerning the three other patents in suit, the jury returned a damages award in the form of a lump sum of $37.5 million for infringement of all four patents by all of AVX’s accused products.  After the jury trial, the court granted a motion for reconsideration of the sanctions.  A new trial for the ‘715 patent was held and the result was that the jury found no infringement concerning some of AVX’s Ingenio products, while finding infringement with regard to a smaller subset of Ingenio products.

The reason for the jury award set-aside is attributed to the jury verdict form, which failed to request damages figures on a patent-specific and product-specific basis.  Citing two Federal Circuit cases (Verizon Services Corporation v. Vonage Holdings Corp. and DDR Holdings, LLC v. Hotels.com, L.P.), the judge’s opinion seems to provide the only solution – a new trial on damages.

Important to note, AVX initially requested that the verdict form offer a damages line on a patent-by-patent basis; however, Greatbatch prevailed with its insistence for the general verdict form ultimately provided to the jury.  Note in this instance, however, that because not all accused Ingenio products were found to infringe the ‘715 patent, a patent-by-patent jury verdict form might not have obviated the need for a new trial on damages under these specific circumstances.