We kicked off the Saturday morning session with a presentation from Mr. Norman Zivin of one of the ILN’s member firms in New York, Cooper & Dunham, who reported on their recent involvement in a Supreme Court case and the implications for ILN member firms, both in the US and abroad.
Norman said that the case involved a deep fryer, a product made by their client, SEB, a French company in Lyon. A number of years ago, they brought a lawsuit against a company in Hong Kong for infringement of the patent. The opposing side defended on the grounds that they couldn’t have infringed the patent because the products were made and sold in China. They said that therefore, they don’t do any business in the United States and couldn’t have induced anyone to infringe, because they didn’t even know that SEB had a patent.
The case was tried three or four years ago, before a jury. Norman commented that the reason that a lot of foreign companies bring cases to the US is that juries in the US tend to grant much higher damages than one would get in a case in Europe or Asia. The jury took about 15 minutes to deliberate and came back with a judgement of $5 million in favor of their client. The case went up on appeal, and the decision was affirmed, so everyone thought the case was over.