Supreme Court: profits lost to patent infringement overseas recoverable
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Supreme Court: profits lost to patent infringement overseas recoverable

In WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corporation [docket], the US Supreme Court [official website] determined [opinion, PDF] Friday that a patentee who has shown patent infringement in the US may recover damages for the profits that it would have earned outside of the US if the infringement had not occurred.

The dispute is between two companies that have systems to survey the ocean floor, and ION Geophysical allegedly sold competing systems with indistinguishable components overseas. The focus was on whether the Patent Act [text] general damages provision in a case involving infringement is on the act of exporting components from the United States.

The court held 7-2 that damages can be recovered from overseas, and a company can be liable for patent infringement if it ships components of a patented invention overseas to be assembled there under the Patent Act.

“A patent owner is entitled to recover ‘the difference between [its] pecuniary condition after the infringement, and what [its] condition would have been if the infringement had not occurred.’ This recovery can include lost profits. And, as we hold today, it can include lost foreign profits when the patent owner proves infringement.”