The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals recently addressed an issue of first impression: what is the “actual notice” required under 35 U.S.C. §154(d) for a patent owner to recover damages for a defendant’s infringing conduct that occurred before the patent issued?
Most people assume that a plaintiff cannot recover damages for patent infringement for infringing actions that took place before the patent issued (pre-issuance damages). However, the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 does for just that. Section §154(d) provides that a patent owner can recover damages from the defendant infringer for infringement that occurred after the patent application was published if the defendant had actual notice of the published patent application and if the invention claimed in the published patent application is substantially identical to the invention claimed in the issued patent. For patent litigators, the situation rarely exists because the published claims are almost always amended during prosecution, resulting in different claims in the issued patent.
Rosebud LMS, Inc. sued Adobe Systems, Inc. for infringement of three different patents, from 2010 through 2014 in the district court of Delaware. The first and second cases were dismissed. The third case, filed in 2014, alleged that Adobe infringed Rosebud’s U.S. patent no. 8,578,280. The ‘280 patent and was a continuation of the second patent, which was a continuation of the first patent. All three of the patents covered methods for allowing collaborative work on a computer network.