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On June 13, 2016, the Supreme Court decided Halo Electronics v. Pulse Electronics, which was consolidated with Stryker Corp. v. Zimmer. Both of these cases involved claims of patent infringement relating to the sale or marketing of various inventions. Both also involved a determination by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that an award of enhanced damages for infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 284 was not appropriate, after applying the Circuit’s two-part objective/subjective test for willful or bad-faith infringement set forth in In re Seagate Tech., LLC.

The question before the Supreme Court was whether the Federal Circuit’s refusal to allow enhanced damages absent a finding of willfulness under its two-part test was inconsistent with § 284, which provides that in a case of infringement, courts “may increase the damages up to three times the amount found or assessed.” 

By a vote of 8-0, the Supreme Court vacated the Federal Circuit’s judgment and remanded the case. Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court, which held that the Federal Circuit’s Seagate test unduly confined the ability of district courts to exercise the discretion conferred on them by § 284. Justice Breyer filed a concurring opinion in which Justices Kennedy and Alito joined.

To discuss the case, we have Gregory Dolin who is Associate Professor of Law and Co-Director, Center for Medicine and Law at University of Baltimore School of Law.

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