CAFC Interprets Knorr-Bremse — Finds Willful Infringement

PatentlyOImage044Imonex Services v. W.H. Munzprefer Dietmar Trenner (Fed. Cir. 2005).

In one of the first willfulness decisions since Knorr-Bremse, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has affirmed a district court’s denial of JMOL after a jury verdict of willfulness.

This case involves a mechanical money sorter that differentiates according to coin diameter. Imonex sued several defendants and won a jury verdict that included increased damages for willfulness. 

According to the CAFC, “willfulness requires a showing that the totality of the circumstances evince the egregious conduct that constitutes willful infringement.” (citing Knorr-Bremse). 

In this case, Imonex had disclosed the patented device (that was properly marked) to employees of the defendants several years before filing suits. Likewise, Imonex brochures and literature included statements that the products were patented.  These facts, according to the CAFC, were sufficient to raise a duty of due care. 

“The jury could have reasonably concluded that several instance recounted in the record triggered the [Defendants’] duty of care.”

Once the duty of care exists, the defendants must take steps to ensure that they do not violate the patent.