An intellectual property lawsuit tried in federal court in Connecticut resulted in the award of $176.5 million for one of the parties. It was ruled that a device marketed and sold by Johnson & Johnson infringed upon a patent owned by an Irish company named Covidien.
The device in question was an ultrasonic surgical product, and the court ruled the device infringed on at least three of Covidien’s patents. The damage award was based upon a formula that looked at percentages of royalties on sales reportedly infringed upon through March of 2012. It is possible that the award will be appealed by Johnson & Johnson.
Such an award demonstrates why businesses need to take seriously any claims of intellectual property infringement. Even if Johnson & Johnson were to get such an award reversed or reduced, other businesses will look closer at the Johnson & Johnson product line regarding possible violations of intellectual property laws.
Intellectual property law and especially patent law is an extremely restrictive area for attorneys to practice in. Most attorneys are simply not qualified to involve themselves in the creation of patent applications, or in determining whether a patent or intellectual property infringement exists.
With increasingly specialized technology, the number of such disputes will not likely be reduced in the future due to advancements in medical equipment, computer hardware and software, complicated machinery, and other gadgets. Though awards such as the one mentioned above may be exceptional, most companies still will not be able to afford the costly penalties that may come about if a court rules that infringement did exist.
Source: Norwich Bulletin, “Covidien awarded $176.5M in patent lawsuit,” March 29, 2013
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