Law360, New York (April 6, 2011, 11:59 AM EDT) -- A company cannot afford to ignore allegations that it has willfully infringed a patent. In patent cases, the difference between innocent infringement and willful infringement can be substantial. If infringement is found to be willful, the court can, under 35 U.S.C. § 284, enhance damages up to three times the damages awarded.
An accused infringer can generally avoid a willfulness finding by acting reasonably at the time it first learns of the patent or alleged infringement. Accordingly, companies accused of patent infringement have, in some cases, attempted to bolster their defense to willfulness allegations early on by obtaining a counsel opinion...
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