Suing Microsoft: a thought on patent damages litigation
US patent law gives the courts discretion to multiply an award of damages by up to three times, which is why wilful damages awards are so high. This sounds very generous to the holder of the infringed patent, but I wonder whether it really works to the successful plaintiff's benefit.
Where the cost of failure in litigation is so high, the temptation to appeal -- and to invest heavily in the appeal -- will increase, thus multiplying the expense of enforcement and delaying the outcome. Also, while it is relatively easy to assess whether a patent is infringed, it can be extremely difficult to assess whether the infringement was wilful or not. This can involve lengthy and time-consuming discovery of evidence, which must then be digested and rationalised into a plausible case that the infringement was wilful.
I wonder whether a better litigation strategy for the Unilocs of this world, when suing in the US and where the infringement is ongoing, is not to go for damages at all but press swiftly for an injunction as a means of leveraging a good stream of licence revenue.
Also, I don't know if there's any comparative data as between the US and Germany, but in Germany there is little scope for discovery and damages awards are most ungenerous by US standards, but the handling of infringement litigation is by general assent pretty good.