Remittitur without new trial requires legal error, not error as a matter of law

In a recent decision, the Federal Circuit reversed a district court's reduction of the jury's damages award, remanding the case for a new trial on damages, and affirmed the jury's verdict of willful infringement and the district court's award of attorney fees under § 285.

The district court held there was insufficient evidence as a matter of law to support the jury's damages award, so it reduced the award from over $1 million down to just over $50,000. However, the court did not offer the patentee the option of a new trial. The Federal Circuit held this violated the Seventh Amendment, which requires a new trial unless the award was based on legal error, not present here.

Further, the Federal Circuit held the district court's jury instruction on the issue of actual notice under § 287 was legally incorrect, as it improperly foreclosed a finding of actual notice before the discovery of the defendant's infringement. As a result, the Federal Circuit remanded the case for a new trial on damages to address both the amount and the date from which damages should be calculated.

More detail of Minks v. Polaris Indus., Inc. after the jump.

 

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Efforts to terminate infringement after notice of patent doesn't avoid damages

In a decision Tuesday, the Federal Circuit vacated a district court's grant of summary judgment of non-infringement of a patent on the basis of claim construction.  Specifically, the district court had improperly imported limitations from nonasserted claims into the asserted claims, resulting in an unduly narrow claim construction.  

The court also vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment of no liability for damages for infringement.  The patentee had not marked articles with the patent number, and upon notice of the patent, the alleged infringer immediately took steps to redesign the accused products.  However, the redesign took over six months to complete.  The district court held that because the accused infringer took reasonable steps to cease infringement immediately upon notice, damages were unavailable.  The Federal Circuit disagreed, and noted there is no exception for liability when an accused infringer is "expeditious" in its efforts to cease infringing after notice is given, so the court remanded for a determination of damages if the patents are determined to be valid.  

More detail of DSW, Inc. v. Shoe Pavilion, Inc. after the jump.

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Application of doctrine of equivalents to range limitation in claim does not vitiate the limitation

In a decision Friday, the Federal Circuit affirmed a district court's claim construction, but reversed its rulings regarding the sufficiency of notice of infringement and the applicability of the doctrine of equivalents.

Regarding sufficiency of notice under 35 U.S.C. 287(a), the court held that while the patentee did not mark its products, its notice of infringement via letter was sufficient where the patent holder's identity is accurately noted on the patent included with a notification letter, even if not included in the text of the letter itself.

The court also held that the doctrine of claim vitiation does not necessarily preclude application of the doctrine of equivalents when the claim language includes a range of values. The fact that the equivalent would fall outside the range specified in the claim does not necessarily mean the limitation would be vitiated.

More detail of U.S. Philips Corp. v. Iwasaki Elec. Co. after the jump.

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