Judge Gilstrap recently entered Final Judgment that included a 20% enhancement of damages based on a Jury Verdict that LG willfully infringed two patents that patent owner Core Wireless alleged to be essential to certain cellular standards. This appears to be the first case of a court enhancing damages based on willful infringement of a standard essential patent. Recall that Judge Gilstrap previously denied LG’s pre-trial motion to preclude finding willful infringement of an alleged standard essential patent, but indicated that he might consider LG’s policy arguments if he were to consider enhancing damages if the jury found that LG willfully infringed the patents (see our Sep. 7, 2016 post).
Judge Gilstrap has now ruled that he will enhance damages following the jury verdict that LG willfully infringed the patent, and he did so sua sponte, meaning that he enhanced damages without the patent owner filing a post-trial motion seeking such enhancement or the parties briefing same. Judge Gilstrap has since stayed execution of the judgment while the parties file post-trial motions, which motions most likely will address the issue of willful infringement and enhanced damages.
Judge Gilstrap’s decision to enhance damages was due to LG’s negotiation conduct and apparently weak infringement/validity defenses, which led him to conclude that “LG’s decision to terminate negotiations and continue operations without a license was driven by its resistance to being the first in the industry to take a license, and not by the merits or strength of its non-infringement and invalidity defenses.”