Court affirms breech of Siemens patent, more awards forthcoming

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The Federal Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a bid by Saint-Gobain, a manufacturer of crystals for nuclear imaging, to overturn a District Court decision which found that Saint-Gobain had infringed on Siemens' patented PET technology.

In its Feb. 24 decision, the Court of Appeals of the Federal Circuit affirmed the 2007 District Court of Delaware’s ruling that Saint-Gobain’s selling of crystals to Philips Medical Systems for use in Philips’ PET scanners constituted a violation of a Siemens patent. Saint-Gobain responded by filing an appeal, claiming that the District Court erred in its instructions to the jury for determining proof of infringement. The recent Federal Court of Appeals decision dismissed this claim.

Initially, the District Court jury awarded damages of $52.3 million to Siemens, to be paid by Saint-Gobain. That court later agreed with Saint-Gobain that some of the evidence provided by Siemens for lost profits due to the infringement was “wholly speculative,” thereby deciding to reduce the damages owed by Saint-Gobain to $44.9 million.

Siemens appealed this reduction to the Court of Appeals, arguing that the District Court had abused its discretion in the modification of damages.

The Federal Court of Appeals agreed with Saint-Gobain that the District Court had not exceeded its discretion, upholding its authority to reduce the damages. However, the court also found in favor of Siemens that the District Court had erred in failing to consider additional lost profits from 18 scanners that Siemens did not sell for reasons related to the patent infringement.

The Court of Appeals therefore affirmed the decision in favor of Siemens, while vacating the damages so that the District Court should consider a “reasonable royalty” for Siemens’ lost profits. This royalty will be added to the $44.9 million in damages for profits lost to Philips for its sale of 61 PET scanners.

The Federal Circuit court’s decision in Siemens Medical Solutions USA, Inc. v. Saint-Gobain Ceramics & Plastics, Inc., can be read here.