In patent litigation, a judge may enhance damages under 35 U.S.C. § 284 after the defendant is found to have willfully infringed. The question of willfulness was traditionally evaluated with the Seagate test. Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc. changed the test for willful infringement, giving new reason to think carefully when confronted with a competitor’s patent.
What This Means to You
- This case changed the test for willful infringement by eliminating the defense of simply formulating during litigation a reasonable argument that the patent is invalid or not infringed.
- Under the new test, willfulness is determined based on the infringer’s conduct at the time of infringement, and so care is needed when evaluating a competitor’s patents. An early understanding about why the patents are invalid or not infringed remains an important defense against a willfulness charge.