Supreme Court Holds Patent Owners May Recover Lost Profits for Infringement Abroad

No, the Supreme Court is Not Anti-patent
October 26, 2018

Supreme Court Holds Patent Owners May Recover Lost Profits for Infringement Abroad

In WesternGeco, a US Patentee holding four US patents sued a US Competitor for infringement of the patents. The Competitor had manufactured all of the components of a system in the US, then shipped the components overseas for final assembly to create a directly competing system that, in the US, would infringe the US patents. The assembled system was sold to international customers and directly resulted in lost sales to the US Patentee.
Generally, the protection granted by a patent is limited to the territory of the patent, but here, the US Supreme Court held that the Patentee could obtain damages for lost profits to the sales it lost to the Competitor’s customers, although the customers and sales occurred overseas, resulting in a lot of discussion in the IP community – and a clear win for Patentees.
Although the Court’s decision didn’t state this explicitly, it seems to me that the decision turns on the question of intent to infringe and control over the international activity, which is a reasonable step to take. Multi-national companies are always looking for ways to skirt liability, and this decision sends a signal that they shouldn’t escape liability through what amounts to a technicality.
I’m curious to see how courts in other countries will respond.

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