On Friday, the US Supreme Court gave the go ahead to a patent infringement case that involves Cisco Systems Inc. and which could have a huge impact on how companies defend themselves from similar litigation in the future.
An appeals court had earlier ruled that the Cisco had won the patent infringement lawsuit filed by Commil. Commil’s patent lawyers lost the company a $64 million jury verdict which named for allegedly infringing on Commil’s wireless technology patents. Cisco’s patent attorneys had argued that the company had reasonable belief that Commil’s patent on the technology had long expired. And the judges in the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit were divided on their opinion of whether this reasonable doubt about the patent’s validity was evidence enough of Cisco’s good-faith.
Appeals Court flouted Patent Act, says Commil
So now that the lawsuit is in the US Supreme Court, Commil’s lawyers have taken the position that the appeals court’s ruling undermines the Patent Act and deters its ability to stop infringement. Cisco on the other hand is still maintaining its ‘reasonable belief’ as a defense. The case will be argued in March next year.
Commil is being represented in the fight by patent lawyers from the Dallas based Sayles Werbner, along with a team from Houston’s Heim, Payne & Chorush. The team from Sayles Werbner also represented Commil in a 2011 trial in the Eastern District of Texas over a lawsuit including patented wireless technology.
Supreme Court ruling can set tone for future lawsuits
The team representing Commil is pretty hopeful that the US Supreme Court will hear their side of the story and resolve what is for the company an important issue. They are also confident that the Supreme Court will strike down the defense created by the Federal Circuit Court, which they feel gives free rein to all those who choose to infringe on a valid patent.
The case was first heard in 2011, and the jury verdict later increased the amount to about $73 million by adding prejudgment interest. This was however nullified by a 2013 US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which is the designated court for hearing patent litigations and appeals.
Cisco still maintaining ‘reasonable belief’
The Federal Court had thought it was possible that Cisco’s utilization of the patent was in good faith and that the Texas court should have allowed the company to enter evidence proving their claim of reasonable belief. In an earlier trial in 2010, it was proved by Commil’s lawyers that the patent was still valid during the time that Cisco had tried to use the wireless technology.
After the Federal Court’s decision, both the US Solicitor General and the USPTO had come out in support of Commil’s request for a hearing in the Supreme Court. Commil and the company’s supporters argued vehemently that the federal courts’ decision was a mockery of the US Patent Act, which assumes that all issued patents are to be presumed valid.