The Federal Circuit’s Seagate test for the award of treble damages in patent cases under 35 USC 284 is too rigid and is rejected. The Seagate test wrongly (1) required a showing of objective recklessness in every case, even when the infringer subjectively intended to infringe, (2) required proof by clear and convincing evidence rather than merely a preponderance of the evidence, and (3) applied a three-part standard of review on appeal instead of simply abuse of discretion. No single test is adopted in place of Seagate‘s rejected test, but treble damages are reserved for cases of egregious infringement. The preponderance of the evidence test governs proof of all elements of a patent infringement case, including treble damages. On appeal, an award of treble damages is reviewed for abuse of discretion.
United States Supreme Court (Roberts, C.J.; Breyer, Kennedy, & Alito, JJ., concurring); June 13, 2016; 2016 WL 3221515