Judge Robinson: Interpretation of In Re Seagate

In Cordis Corporation v. Boston Scientific Corporation, C.A. No. 03-27-SLR (D. Del. Jan. 28, 2010), Judge Robinson had an opportunity to lay out her views on In re Seagate Techonology, LLC, 497 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2007) (en banc). In Re Seagate held that “to establish willful infringement, a patentee must show by clear and convincing evidence that the infringer acted despite an objectively high likelihood that its actions constituted infringement of a valid patent. . . . If this threshold objective standard is satisfied, the patentee must also demonstrate that this objectively-defined risk (determined by the record developed in the infringement proceeding) was either known or so obvious that it should have been known to the accused infringer.” Id. at 2, quoting Seagate.

Judge Robinson expressed her view that this holding allows consideration only of pre-litigation evidence, excluding things like prior court decisions:

It cannot be emphasized enough that the litigation process is a complicated one, comprising multiple steps and moved forward by multiple decisions, ranging from resolving a discovery dispute to a case-dispositive motion. Consequently, I am very uncomfortable with characterizing administrative and court decisions as “objective evidence” for presentation to a jury. As recognized by counsel, a jury is going to give such evidence great weight, even when the procedural and substantive bases for most such decisions will not be apparent to the jury. This strikes me either as the kind of evidence better suited for review by a court’ or as eliciting the kind of hindsight review that is so strenuously discouraged in other aspects of patent law. See KSR Intern. Co, v. Teleflex Inc., 550 U.S. 398, 421 (2007). Therefore, consistent with the reasoning of the Seagate decision as a whole (and its emphasis on prelitigation conduct), generally only evidence regarding the prelitigation landscape of the dispute will be admitted.

Id. at 3-4. Further, even pre-litigation evidence remains subject to the Rule 403 standard. Id. at 5. Based on those rules, Judge Robinson excluded various evidence from the damages portion of the case, including a prior preliminary judgment decision, the outcome of other prior litigation, and statements issued during re-examination proceedings. Id. at 4-5.

Cordis Corporation v. Boston Scientific Corporation, C.A. No. 03-27-SLR (D. Del. Jan. 28, 2010)

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