联邦上诉法院首席法官也敢批评,侵权惩罚性赔偿该是2.5倍还是3倍?

如果你仔细看我上周分享的 IP 50人名单,你会发现有个人靠写博客上榜了,他就是美国密苏里大学法学院副教授Dennis Crouch。他的博客名为“Patently-O”,被(zi)称(cheng)为美国领先的专利法资料来源(America’s leading patent law source)。Patently-O博客的核心内容就是对美国联邦巡回上诉法院和最高法院的裁判进行评论和批判。

在他最近的一篇博文中,又质疑了美国联邦巡回上诉法院的法官,没有明确解释为什么对故意侵权的惩罚性赔偿是3倍,而不是2倍或2.5倍。

本案中,被告承认自己故意侵权,但是认为自己的恶意不足以达到3倍的惩罚性赔偿的上限。法官在审理中也认识到该如何确定惩罚性赔偿的倍数是一个问题,但是,由于其最后作出的判决书是不附意见的R36判决,所以,并没有对是如何确定的倍数作出解释。

按照美国联邦法院的规定,当一个意见没有先例价值且法院认为没有理由重新审理下级法庭的裁决时,法院可以做出R36判决判决而不给出意见。

Dennis教授评论道:

我在这里要注意的是,虽然首席法官普罗斯特认为3x和2.5x之间的差异是就像分头发,但这个差异大约是4000万美元。 我们必须在这里谈论如何分北欧女神Sif的黄金头发。

I’ll note here that, although Chief Judge Prost suggested the difference between 3x and 2.5x is splitting hairs, the difference is about $40 million. We must be talking here about splitting the golden hairs of the Norse goddess Sif.

大白话讲就是,头发多分一点少分一点,无所谓,但是,3倍和2.5倍的赔偿相差价值4000万美元呢,这是Sif女神的黄金头发吧。

对首席大法官也点名道姓评论一番,这也是因为学者身份,换做律师,肯定也不会这样。以前我也分享了很多Dennis教授的博文,我很喜欢他的评论。

其实,知识产权领域有很多难以明确界定的问题,在国内外都是难题,比如侵权损害计算时的贡献率问题。

中国引入专利侵权的惩罚性赔偿制度之后,估计法官也会面对应该是2.5倍还是3倍的难题,我们还是需要密切留意国外相关案例的最新进展,为国内法律适用提供借鉴。

欢迎在文末围观本案只有1句话的R36判决。

Federal Circuit Refuses to Split Hairs over Level of Enhanced Damages

Dennis Crouch/ December 13, 2018

Stryker Corp. v. Zimmer, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2018)

In a R.36 judgment-without-opinion, the Federal Circuit has affirmed Stryker’s $250 million willful-infringement verdict against Zimmer.  In the case, the jury found the asserted claims valid and infringed and awarded $70+ million in compensatory damages.  The jury also found that the infringement was willful.

After receiving the jury verdict, W.D. Mich Judge Jonker awarded treble damages for the willful behavior — “Given the onesidedness of the case and the flagrancy and scope of Zimmer’s infringement, the Court concludes that treble damages are appropriate here.”

The district court’s opinion carefully walked through the determination of whether or not to enhance damages.  Writing that “in this case, all nine Read factors favor substantial enhancement of the jury’s award.” However, the district court did not really explain its choice to award 3x compensation rather than 2x or 2.5x.

On appeal, the Zimmer focused on the 3x-limit and argued that treble damages should be “reserved for the most egregious cases” and that the level of damage enhancement must be proportional to the egregiousness of the intentional misbehavior.  In oral arguments, Chief Judge Prost offered skepticism as to the role of the appellate court to re-evaluate the level of enhancement:

You’re saying you’re agreeing there is going to be enhancement, and now we are talking about whether it should be three times, or two and a half times, or one and a quarter times. . . . It is really hard at the appellate level for us to start scrutinizing what percentage the district court should have applied. Even if . . . [the district court] went too far . . . what are we supposed to do with that?

[Oral arguments]. In its judgment, the Federal Circuit affirmed the lower court ruling without providing any reasoning. Thus, it is unclear whether the Federal Circuit (1) disagrees with the need for porportionality or instead (2) found sufficient evidence proportionality in this case to affirm.  I’ll note here that, although Chief Judge Prost suggested the difference between 3x and 2.5x is splitting hairs, the difference is about $40 million.  We must be talking here about splitting the golden hairs of the Norse goddess Sif.

Note – this case is a continuation of Stryker Corp. v. Zimmer Inc. decided by the Supreme Court in 2016.  The procedural history here is that the district court’s original judgment of enhanced damages was reversed by the Federal Circuit in its 2014 decision. The Supreme Court then took-up the case and ruled, inter alia, that an objectively reasonable defense does not excuse willfulness.  On remand, the District Court again awarded treble damages — and that award has now been affirmed.

Source: patentlyo.com

Each article is copyrighted to their original authors. The news is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice.

–End–

附本案R36判决书,其实只有一个词:Affirmed.

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