Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

SCOTUS overturns lower court's punitive damages standards

New Jersey businesses that hold patents should pay attention to the recent decision by the Supreme Court of the United States. In its ruling, the court overruled a precedent previously set by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the court that handles patent law matters.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit had previously established standards that patent holders had to overcome in order to seek and obtain punitive damages in their patent infringement lawsuits. The standards were extremely stringent, making it almost impossible for patent holders to receive punitive damages even when the infringement was a willful act.

The decision involved the legal ability of lower courts to grant up to three times of the amount of actual damages as special damages in patent infringement cases. In order to combat this power, the appeals court established standards that were extremely difficult to overcome. The Supreme Court found that the standards were too rigid and broadened the discretion given to judges in the lower courts. While the ruling is good news for those holding patents, some people also worry that it will embolden patent trolls, leading them to claim high damages in order to shake companies down.

Companies apply for patents in order to protect their intellectual property, which is often the lifeblood of their business. Under the patent law, patent holders are able to seek damages from individuals or companies who use the patented information or invention without permission to do so. Those who believe their patents have been infringed upon may want to consult with an intellectual property attorney to see what steps should be taken.

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Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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