The plaintiff brought a suit against a competitor alleging infringement of four of its patents. The defendant brought counterclaims of infringement for two of its patents. A jury issued a mixed verdict, finding that all claims asserted by both parties were not invalid, and that the defendant infringed or induced infringement of two of the plaintiff’s patents. The jury further found that the plaintiff infringed one of the defendant’s patents under the doctrine of equivalents. Following post-trial motions, the district court entered a judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) against the defendant for direct infringement of a third patent, and entered a permanent injunction. Both parties appealed various claim construction, jury instruction, verdict form, JMOL, and injunction rulings made by the court, as well as the denials of the parties’ motions for a new trial.
The Federal Circuit reversed and vacated the jury verdict in part as well as vacated the district court’s grant of a permanent injunction. Notably, the Federal Circuit vacated the jury finding of induced infringement against the defendant, holding that “a finding of inducement requires actual inducement,” but that the jury instructions incorrectly instructed that a party may be liable for inducement, “even where it does not successfully communicate with and induce a third-party direct infringer.” The Federal Circuit further reversed the jury finding of infringement against the plaintiff under the doctrine of “claim vitiation,” holding that the jury’s finding of infringement under the doctrine of equivalents improperly vitiated a claimed element that was deemed valid when the jury found no direct infringement of the claim. The court also vacated the permanent injunction and directed the district court to reconsider the injunction in light of the “significantly reduced” scope of the defendant’s potential infringement liability.