Today in Top Ten No. (5) Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc., __ U.S. __ (2016)(Roberts, C.J.), the Court reversed the narrow Federal Circuit construction of patent damages under 35 USC § 284. The Court opened up “enhanced damages to egregious cases of misconduct beyond typical infringement.”
The holding was unanimous; a separate opinion was filed by Breyer, J., concurring, joined by Kennedy, Alito, JJ.
From the Opinion:
“* * * Section 284 gives district courts the discretion to award enhanced damages against those guilty of patent infringement. In applying this discretion, district courts are ‘to be guided by [the] sound legal principles’ developed over nearly two centuries of application and interpretation of the Patent Act. Martin [v. Franklin Capital Corp., 546 U.S. 132, 139 (2005)] (internal quotation marks omitted). Those principles channel the exercise of discretion, limiting the award of enhanced damages to egregious cases of misconduct beyond typical infringement. The Seagate test, in contrast, unduly confines the ability of district courts to exercise the discretion conferred on them. Because both cases before us were decided under the [In re Seagate Technology, LLC, 497 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2007)] framework, we vacate the judgments of the Federal Circuit and remand the cases for proceedings consistent with this opinion.”