Judge: Rodney Gilstrap
Holding: Everything The Jury Did AFFIRMED
I thought I'd recognize the second patent trial in the old courthouse this week with Judge Schneider by noting the final outcome at the district court level of the first, last year's SSL v. Citrix case, which just came out a couple of weeks ago.
As I posted last year, SSL Services, LLC v. Citrix Systems, Inc, et al., 2:08cv158, was tried before Judge Rodney Gilstrap with a Marshall jury in the historic 1901 county courthouse - the first trial in the historic district courtroom in almost half a century. The case marked the first application by a district court the Federal Circuit opinion in Bard Peripheral v. W.L.Gore (Fed. Cir. 2012) that the "objective prong" of the test for willful patent infringement is a separate question of law, and that henceforth it will be the trial court's duty to determine whether the defendant's actions were objectively reckless. The opinion came out during the trial, and was applied by the Court is figuring out how to submit the issue in the case.
In SSL, there were two patents asserted. The jury found one patent (the one with the lion's share of the $63 million in damages sought) not infringed, and found that only one of the three claims on a second patent was infringed. It found that all three of the second patent's claims were also contributorily and induced-edly infringed. It found that the infringement of the second claim was willful, and Judge Gilstrap, following the new Federal Circuit caselaw in Bard, determined the objective prong of willful as a matter of law and submitted the subjective prong to the jury with the appropriate instructions for that prong.
Two weeks ago Judge Gilstrap ruled on the multiple pending motions for judgment as a matter of law and new trial following the jury's verdict. Here are the subjects and the rulings with somewhat abbreviated analysis:
Defendant's JMOL and MNT on Damages - Denied
Defendant Citrix wanted JMOL and in the alternative a do-over on damages, asserting that the plaintiff was not entitled to pre-suit damages because it had not marked, because the damages verdict lacked substantial evidence because jury relied on an allegedly noncomparable license, and because it was, well, just generally unsupported for other reasons. Judge Gilstrap's opinion:
- discusses the marking requirement and concluded that substantial evidence supported the jury's conclusion that the marking statute was complied with;
- discusses the law on comparability of license agreements and concluded that substantial evidence supported the jury's damages award and that the licensing agreement was in fact sufficiently comparable; and
- concluded that there was substantial evidence to support the jury's conclusion as to damages.
Plaintiff's JMOL/MNT that the Patent It Lost on is Infringed as a Matter of Law - Denied
Uh, no. Judge Gilstrap's opinion:
- noted that the plaintiff did not object to the testimony it now complained of at trial (noting that a ruling on a limine did not preserve error on the point) and that the testimony was proper anyway;
- concluded that other objected-to testimony was proper; and
- concluded that there was substantial evidence supporting the jury's verdict of noninfringement.
Defendant's JMOL/MNT of noninfringement/invaldity - Denied
Substantial evidence, yada yada - denied.
Defendant's JMOL/MNT as to Willfulness - Denied
First the objective. Judge Gilstrap observed:
In sum, Citrix’s invalidity defenses based on prior art have been rejected: (1) by the Court as being objectively unreasonable; (2) by the jury as not being shown by clear and convincing evidence; and (3) by the USPTO in the Action mailed November 29, 2012. The Court is of the continuing opinion that the mere fact that claims have entered reexamination cannot be an absolute bar to willfulness with regard to the “objectively reckless” inquiry. In this case, Citrix’s invalidity defenses have been rejected three times. The cited references simply do not invalidate the claims, and it was objectively unreasonable for Citrix to believe otherwise.
Next, the Court found that the evidence presented at trial was (drum roll please) "more than substantial evidence to support the jury's verdict regarding willful infringement."
As I mentioned to the jury in that courtroom yesterday during voir dire - the jury box is in the center of the courtroom for a reason.