Reaching Across Oceans

U.S. Supreme Court grants review in case about jurisdictional limits of patent law

The U.S. Supreme Court will, for the second time, consider WesternGeco v. ION Geophysical Corporation, which has subverted legislation about jurisdictional boundaries of patent law.

In WesternGeco, the court has to decide whether to overturn a decision from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and rule that WesternGeco can recover profits lost overseas from ION’s infringement of its patented seismic survey system.

Although the case involves a specific statute, intellectual property attorneys postulated that the Supreme Court’s eventual decision could have a broad effect across industries. It brings to issue 35 U.S. Code 271(f), which made it infringement to domestically supply components of another’s patented invention for the purpose of assembling the parts abroad into the finished mechanism.

Merchant & Gould partner Dan McDonald said he believes the decision might have broad implications. His view echoed U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco’s amicus brief, which outlines the likelihood of the case’s key issues recurring. As McDonald explained, the Federal Circuit has also made prior rulings against recovering lost profits abroad stemming from a domestic infringement, which Francisco argued were also wrong.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the January 22, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.