Federal Circuit defines scope of notice to show willful infringement after Knorr-Bremse

In Imonex Servs. v. W.H. Munzprufer Dietmar Trenner Gmbh, 408 F.3d 1374, 74 USPQ2d 1936 (Fed. Cir. 2005), reh’g and reh’g en banc denied, 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 15283 (Fed. Cir. June 27, 2005), Imonex alleged that Munzprufer infringed Imonex’s U.S. Patent Nos. 4,911,280 and 5,988,349.  Imonex patented coin selectors, which differentiate between different size coins.  The jury found the patents valid, enforceable and willfully infringed.  Willful infringement was based on a showing that the totality of the circumstances evince conduct that constitutes willful infringement using the standard set forth in Knorr-Bremse Systeme Fuer Nutzfahrzeuge GmbH v. Dana Corp., 383 F.3d 1337, 1342, 72 USPQ2d 1560 (Fed. Cir. 2004).  Under this standard, actual notice of another’s patent rights triggers an affirmative duty of care, whereas constructive notice is not sufficient to trigger an affirmative duty.  Imonex demonstrated the patented devices at trade shows to employees of the defendant, widely distributed literature of the patented products indicating the products were patented, and corresponded with the defendant’s employees about the use of the patented devices in the defendant’s products.  These actions gave the defendant actual notice and thus triggered an affirmative duty of care.  Thus, the Federal Circuit held that, based on the totality of the circumstances, the jury had ample evidence to find willful infringement.

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