Is Evidence of a Concurrent Reexamination Admissible in Litigation? (Part III of IV)

Is Evidence of a Concurrent Reexamination Admissible in Litigation? (Part III of IV)



As a result of the popularity of reexamination, courts are frequently faced with the issue of whether evidence of parallel reexamination proceedings should be considered at trial.  In our previous posts, “Is Evidence of Parallel Reexamination Proceedings Admissible at Trial? (Parts I and II),” we discussed using pending reexamination proceedings to support invalidity contentions and prove inequitable conduct.  Accused infringers have also attempted to use evidence of parallel reexamination proceedings to rebut allegations of willful infringement.
 
Reexamination Evidence Used to Rebut Willfulness
 
Willful infringement exists where an accused infringer acted “despite an objectively high likelihood that its actions constituted infringement of a valid patent” and the “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.”  In re Seagate Technology, LLC, 497 F.3d 1360, 1371 (Fed. Cir. 2007).  Thus in order for willful infringement to be found, the accused infringer must have known or should have known that the relevant patent was valid.  Willfulness is to be evaluated “under the totality of the circumstances.” Id. at 1369.  Thus, alleged infringers accused of willful infringement have asked the court to consider the existence of pending reexamination proceedings.  The theory asserted by alleged infringers is typically a variant of the following: where the PTO has granted a request for reexamination, and thus concluded that substantial questions of patentability exist, an alleged infringer could not have acted “despite an objectively high likelihood that its actions constituted infringement of a valid patent.”  In other words, where the PTO has called into question the validity of the patent by granting reexamination, any infringement thereafter could not have been willful. . . . Read the rest of this entry »