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Jury’s Finding of Willfulness Sufficient Under Halo to Support Judgment of Willful Infringement

Sociedad Espanola de Electromedicina Y Calidad, S.A. (Sedecal) filed a patent infringement action against Blue Ridge X-Ray Company, Inc. (Blue Ridge X-Ray), DRGEM USA, Inc. (DRGEM USA), and DRGEM Corporation (DRGEM Corp.), alleging infringement of Sedecal’s U.S. Patent No. 6,642,829 (“the ‘829 Patent”). After a jury returned a verdict finding that the Defendants had infringed the ‘829 Patent, the same jury awarded the Plaintiff $852,000 in damages against all three Defendants in a second trial and found that DRGEM USA, Inc. and DRGEM Corporation’s infringement was willful.

The district court then ordered supplemental briefing on the objective prong of the Seagate case since the jury verdict was rendered before the Supreme Court’s decision in Halo. While the matter was still under advisement, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc., 136 S. Ct. 1923 (2016). In Halo, the Supreme Court overruled Seagate, concluding that the Federal Circuit’s two-part inquiry was “unduly rigid, and it impermissibly encumbered the discretion of district courts.” Halo, 136 S. Ct. at 1932.

As a result of Halo, the Supreme Court eliminated the objective prong of Seagate, which the district court explained leaves “the issue of willfulness as solely a factual issue which can readily be addressed by a jury.” The district court then noted that “[h]ere, the jury was instructed to make a factual determination as to whether the DRGEM Defendants acted willfully, and the jury answered this question in the affirmative.”

The district court found that this finding sufficient by itself to support a judgment of willful infringement. “In light of Halo, this finding standing alone is sufficient to support a finding of willfulness. Because this Court is no longer required to make a finding to satisfy the objective recklessness prong of Seagate, a judgment will therefore be entered based on the jury’s verdict that the DRGEM Defendants willfully infringed the ‘829 Patent.”

Sociedad Espanloa DE Electromedicina Calidad, S.A. v. Blue Ridge X-Ray Co., Inc., Case No. 1:10-cv-00159-MR (W.D.N.C. July 8, 2016)

The authors of are patent trial lawyers at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. For more information about this case, contact Stan Gibson at 310.201.3548 or