Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a Federal Circuit decision dealing with patent damages for lost sales in foreign jurisdictions. In WesternGeco LLC v. Ion Geophysical Corp., 586 U.S. ____ (June 22, 2018), Case No. 16-1011 (Thomas J), the Court concluded that US patent owners can get damages from overseas sales lost through infringement.
Although the case returns to the Federal Circuit for further proceedings, this ruling may affect pending and future infringement lawsuits by helping ensure that patent owners receive adequate damages compensation caused by US patent infringement, regardless of where the infringement occurs.
As background, WesternGeco owns four patents related to systems and methods for surveying the ocean floor to locate hydrocarbon deposits. ION developed and began selling a competing system indistinguishable from the systems disclosed in WesternGeco’s patents. ION manufactured the components for its competing system in the United States and then shipped them to companies in foreign jurisdictions where the components were assembled to form the competing system.
Under the Patent Act, a company can be liable for patent infringement if it ships components of a patented invention overseas to be assembled there, and a patent owner who proves infringement under this provision can then be then entitled to recover damages. In its recent decision, the Supreme Court confirms that US patent owners are able to obtain damages from overseas sales lost through infringement if the conduct relevant to the statutory focus occurs in the United States.
For more information about how this ruling may affect your business, please contact your Ally Law intellectual property lawyer.