Federal Circuit Clarifies That There Is Not a Heightened Standard for Willful Infringement
In SRI Int’l, Inc. v. Cisco Sys., Inc., No. 2020-1685 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 28, 2021), the Federal Circuit reinstated the jury’s willful infringement verdict and restored the district court’s award of enhanced damages.
In the first appeal for this case, the Federal Circuit vacated the district court’s denial of judgment of a matter of law of no willful infringement and enhanced damages award. On remand, the district court vacated the jury’s verdict of willful infringement finding that Cisco’s conduct did not rise to the level of “wanton, malicious, and bad-faith behavior.” Finding no willful infringement, the district court declined to reinstate its previously vacated award of enhanced damages.
In this appeal, the Federal Circuit reinstated the jury’s willfulness verdict, finding that substantial evidence supported the jury’s verdict. In doing so, the Court clarified the distinction between conduct warranting enhanced damages and the lesser standard of willful infringement. Willful infringement requires “no more than deliberate or intentional infringement.” Enhanced damages, however, are reserved for “wanton, malicious, and bad-faith behavior.” The Federal Circuit also restored the district court’s original award of enhanced damages, finding the award appropriate in view of the reinstated verdict of willful infringement and detecting no abuse of discretion in the original decision.