A federal judge in the Western District of North Carolina concluded that a jury’s finding of willfulness under In re Seagate still stands after the Supreme Court’s Halo ruling. In Sociedad, a jury found that defendants Blue Ridge X-Ray Company, Inc.; DRGEM USA, Inc.; and DRGEM Corporation infringed Sociedad’s patent. The jury also found that the DRGEM defendants willfully infringed. The jury was presented with two questions on willfulness that modeled the two prong test developed in Seagate—the controlling authority at the time. The jury returned a verdict that the DRGEM defendants satisfied the subjective prong of the Seagate inquiry, but the court deferred entering a judgment in order to consider the objective prong of the Seagate willfulness analysis.
While this matter was under advisement, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc. In the Halo decision, the Supreme Court overruled the objective prong of Seagate, leaving the issue of willfulness as solely a factual issue for the jury. In this case, “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.” Because the court no longer needed to analyze the “objective recklessness” prong of Seagate, the jury’s finding was sufficient to support a finding of willfulness in view of Halo.
Sociedad Espanola De Electromedicina y Calidad v. Blue Ridge X-Ray Co., C.A. No. 1:10-cv-00159-MR (W.D.N.C. July 8, 2016).