In both the federal and state court systems there are multiple courts that could hear a case before a final resolution is given. In the federal court system, there is the district court, then the appeals courts and finally the Supreme Court. The appeals courts hear a variety of cases including intellectual property disputes.
Recently, a federal appeals court reversed a district court decision involving New Jersey based Johnson & Johnson. In the suit, Johnson & Johnson was sued by the holder of a patent protecting a medical device used to treat broken bones. This man claimed that Johnson & Johnson violated his patent by using the technology in their heart stints. Johnson & Johnson maintained that their stints were not using the same technology. The district court disagreed with Johnson & Johnson and a jury awarded the man $482 million. With interest, Johnson & Johnson now owed $593.4 million.
However, the case was appealed. At the appeals court, the decision of the district court was reversed. The appeals court claimed that the trial court did not correctly interpret the patent held by the man. Furthermore the appeals court found that by applying the correct interpretation, Johnson & Johnson had not infringed on the man’s patent. Therefore, the company does not owe any money to the man.
This case shows New Jersey businesses how complicated intellectual property suits can become. They can involve multiple courts, hearings and trials. Furthermore, this area of the law can be difficult to master. However, with the right help these cases can be successful. Just like Johnson & Johnson, patent infringement cases can be successfully defended.
Source: Bloomberg News, “Appeals court tosses out $480 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson over stents,” April 4, 2013