Stryker (NYSE:SYK) has been awarded an enhanced $248 million ruling in a surgical tool patent case against Zimmer Biomet (NYSE:ZBH), due to a US Supreme Court ruling which made it easier to award enhanced damages, according to court documents released yesterday.
Western District of Michigan Judge Robert Jonker reaffirmed an earlier decision to award enhanced damages “in light of the Supreme Court’s clarification of the governing standard in Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc.,” according to court documents.
The court was also asked to reconsider its award of attorney’s fees, due to a Supreme Court ruling in Octane Fitness, LLC, v. Icon Health & Fitness, Inc., which it also reaffirmed.
Judge Jonker reaffirmed both decisions for triple damages for the 2013 jury verdict, which had been vacated on appeal by the Federal Circuit last year. He ruled that in the case, Stryker had “proven by clear and convincing evidence” that Zimmer had willfully infringed on 1 or more claims in all 3 of the patents-in-suit, according to court documents.
“In simplest terms, the Court believes that its and the jury’s original fact findings against Zimmer, coupled with multiple legal changes that actually make it easier to enhance damages and make exceptional case findings, fully support the Court’s original awards in the case. The ability of Zimmer’s trial and appellate counsel to craft some post hoc litigation defenses that the Federal Circuit found objectively reasonable does not undermine the jury’s and this Court’s conclusion that Zimmer’s overall conduct was a case of egregious piracy warranting fully enhanced damages and attorney fees,” Judge Jonker wrote in his decision.
Last September, a federal appeals court overturned the enhanced damages and attorney fees awarded in the $70 million patent infringement case Stryker had won over Zimmer Biomet, but upheld its prior ruling that patents were valid and infringed.
The case was sent back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in June, when the Supreme Court held that the standard for enhanced damages awards in patent infringement cases should be relaxed. The case dates back to December 2010, when Stryker sued orthopedics rival Zimmer, alleging infringement of 3 patents covering wound debridement technology by Zimmer’s Pulsavac Plus device.
In February 2013 a jury in the U.S. District Court for Western Michigan awarded $70 million to Stryker in damages plus royalties, ruling that Zimmer infringed all 3 patents claimed in the suit. Judge Robert Jonker trebled the damages in August of that year, ruling that the infringement was willful, ordering a permanent injunction and granting Stryker’s bid for lost profit damages for another nearly $2.4 million. The judge also granted Stryker’s motion for prejudgment interest, awarding nearly $11.2 million, plus reasonable attorney’s fees and additional prejudgment interest on those fees at a rate of 3.83%.
The Federal Circuit court in 2014 rolled back that $228 million ruling, finding that Stryker failed to prove willful infringement. Stryker appealed to the Supreme Court, which vacated the appeals court’s ruling and ordered it to reconsider the case. The Supremes found that the Federal Circuit’s test was too rigid and allowed egregious infringers to evade liability.
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