Patent Ruling Favors Defendants
Posted Aug 21, 2007 4:37 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
An en banc opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit makes it more difficult to obtain triple damages for willful patent infringement.
The court ruled yesterday (PDF) that to prove willful infringement, "a patentee must show by clear and convincing evidence that the infringer acted despite an objectively high likelihood that its actions constituted infringement," the Recorder reports.
The court also clarified that a defendant who waives attorney-client privilege to release a lawyer’s opinion letter on infringement does not also waive the privilege for trial counsel. Defendants often disclosed favorable opinion letters to show infringement was not willful.
Edward Reines, president of the Federal Circuit Bar Association, told the Recorder that the ruling favors companies accused of infringement. "It's a great day for Silicon Valley tech companies,” he said.