Supreme Court May Tackle Overseas Patent Infringement Issue

The U.S. Supreme Court may soon add a third patent-related case to its docket, if it follows the advice of the Justice Department to review whether a U.S. patent holder has a right to damages for infringing acts conducted overseas.

The justices will consider a petition in WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp., a case where foreign entities used a U.S. company’s system to infringe patents on searching for oil and gas beneath the ocean floor, at a Jan. 5 conference.

A win by the petitioner at the Supreme Court would give U.S. patent owners a chance to recoup some profits lost because of infringement that occurs outside of the country.

WesternGeco, a subsidiary of Schlumberger Ltd., is seeking to overturn the appeals court’s decision to reduce a jury’s damages award by $93.4 million, representing lost profits for particular actions taken by ION Geophysical leading to infringement overseas. If the Supreme Court decides to hear the case, which it may announce as early as Jan. 5, it likely would schedule oral argument for April.

This case is WesternGeco, LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp., U.S., No. 16-1011, review sought 4/19/17.