Verdicts & Settlements

$2.5B verdict is largest patent infringement award in US history; will award be tripled?

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Money stairs.

Jurors awarded $2.54 billion to a unit of Merck & Co. last week in a suit alleging its patented compound was used by Gilead Sciences Inc. to make the hepatitis C drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni.

Jurors upheld the patent on behalf of Merck’s Idenix unit and found the infringement was willful, report Bloomberg News and Law.com (sub. req.).

The $2.54 billion award is the largest patent infringement verdict in U.S. history, and the finding of willfulness means it could be increased to as much as three times the amount.

U.S. District Chief Judge Leonard Stark will make the decision whether to increase the award and, if so, how much it should be increased.

He will look to a June U.S. Supreme Court case, Halo Electronics v. Pulse Electronics, which found that the test for enhanced damages in patent infringement cases is too strict. The Supreme Court cautioned, however, that enhanced damages should “generally be reserved for egregious cases typified by willful misconduct.”

Gilead plans to appeal.

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