Exergen Corporation v. Kaz USA, Inc. (CAFC decided March 8, 2018)

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the damages analysis conducted by Exergen’s damages expert, Barry Sussman, but remanded the case back to the Massachusetts District court for further proceedings.

The two patents at issue involve a thermometer which takes body temperature from the forehead.  The jury verdict form shows that Exergen was awarded both reasonable royalty and lost profit damages. The questions before the CAFC were: 1) whether the royalty rate, amounting to 71% of defendant-Kaz’s projected per-unit net profit, was adequately supported, and 2) whether lost profits should have included infringing sales to CVS, a store which did not sell plaintiff-Exergen’s competing thermometer.

Citing to Asetek v. CMI USA, the CAFC determined that the damages could be split between reasonable royalties and lost profits.  In its affirmation, the court notes that the expert provided substantial evidence from analysis of the Georgia Pacific factors to support the reasonable royalty damages award.  The court also found that the lost profits analysis showed that in a but-for world where Kaz was not selling to CVS, Exergen would have been the only other branded product available for CVS to sell, and that such information was sufficient to support the lost profits award:

Interestingly, because the court reversed the jury’s finding on infringement of claims of one of the two patents-in-suit, the parties agreed that the damages would need to be recalculated: accordingly, the CAFC remanded the damages issue for further proceedings.  This is odd given plaintiff’s damages expert was allowed to offer one reasonable royalty damages figure for both patents, and did not proffer a per-patent rate.

Trustees Of Boston University v. Everlight Electronics Co. (CAFC oral argument 12/8/17)

This case was originally filed in 2012 in Massachusetts.  The case went to trial and BU won on infringement and validity, with the jury awarding damages in the form of a fully paid-up lump sum.  On the jury verdict form, the jury chose a one-time payment for the life of the patent, as opposed to a running royalty rate based on sales.

The interesting question for damages came in post-judgment motions, when BU asked for prejudgment interest. BU argued such interest should accrue from the date of the hypothetical negotiation (i.e., January 2000), rather than from the point in time six to twelve years (for the three defendants) later, when notice occurred and damages began to accrue.

In her opinion, Judge Saris explained that since damages could not accrue until after the hypothetical negotiation, prejudgment interest could also not accrue until notice occurred.  Her conclusion was based largely upon BU’s lack of supporting case law:

On December 8, 2017, the CAFC heard oral arguments on the issue (N.b., the relevant argument begins at 29 minutes & 30 seconds into the recording available below).  The prejudgment interest case discussed was Gen. Motors Corp. v. Devex Corp., 461 U.S. 648, 655 (1983).  Counsel for BU argued that the case supports the notion that lump-sum damages awarded by a jury should accrue interest from the hypothetical negotiation.  It will be interesting to read the Court’s eventual opinion on this specific issue.