Jury awards profits for infringing sales in post-Samsung design patent case

On September 29, a jury in California awarded Columbia Sportswear more than US$3.4 million for infringement of its design patent on heat-reflective technology for clothing and outdoor gear.  Columbia accused Seirus Innovative Accessories of infringing its utility and design patents for its wavy lining material, which reflects body heat, but allows for breathability and moisture-wicking. This appears to be the first jury verdict on a design patent after the Supreme Court’s decision in Samsung v. Apple.

Samsung centered on the question of what constitutes an “article of manufacture” under the Patent Act.  The Patent Act prohibits the unlicensed sale or exposure to sale of “any article of manufacture to which [a patented] design or colorable imitation has been applied.” 35 U.S.C. § 289.  In Samsung, the Supreme Court construed “article of manufacture” broadly to encompass both the whole end product sold to a consumer and a component of the end product, even if the component is not sold separately.

In Columbia, the district court issued summary judgment on the design patent, ruling that Seirus infringed as a matter of law.  The jury was left to determine the damages for the design patent infringement. (Notably, the jury found no liability for Columbia’s parallel utility patent claims.) Consistent with the Supreme Court’s guidance in Samsung, the jury was instructed to identify the “article of manufacture” and then calculate the profit Seirus made on that article of manufacture. The jury had to consider whether the accused product was comprised of multiple components, and whether the “article of manufacture” was the whole product, or just a component.  The jury awarded Columbia US$3,018.174 in Seirus’ profits and US$435,175 as a reasonable royalty.

K&L Gates will continue to monitor this case and cases like it dealing with the identification of articles of manufacture and the extent of damages for lost profits post-Samsung.

By: Shamus J. Hyland

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