Tuesday, October 7, 2014

District Court Not Required to Determine Objectiveness Before Submitting Evidence of Subjective Willfulness to Jury

The court denied defendant's motion in limine to preclude evidence of subjective willfulness until the court ruled on the reasonableness of defendant's invalidity defenses. "[A]lthough it is true that some cases include language supporting defendants’ position that submitting the willfulness question to the jury is improper unless and until the court first decides whether plaintiffs have met their burden with respect to the objective prong of the test, I am not convinced that the Federal Circuit has imposed such a hard and fast rule on district courts. Although it is clear that the objective determination is a legal determination that must be decided ultimately by the court and that there is no reason to submit the willfulness question to the jury if the court has determined that the accused infringer’s defenses are objectively reasonable, I do not understand the cases to require a trial court presiding over often-complex and fact-intensive patent trials to put a case on hold while it considers the objective question, or alternatively, to work through the night to issue a decision on the objective prong so as not to hold up the trial."

Ultratec, Inc. et al v. Sorenson Communications, Inc. et al, 3-13-cv-00346 (WIWD October 3, 2014, Order) (Crabb, J.)

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