August 27, 2009

Microsoft Files i4i Brief; Contrary to Prior Reports, Punitive Damages Not at Issue

We previously reported on a huge judgment against Microsoft for alleged infringement of a patent owned by i4i Limited Partnership. In our report, we said (based on another blog's post about the same case) that the judgment included $40 million in punitive damages.

Microsoft has now filed its opening brief on appeal (link courtesy of AmLaw Daily), which makes clear that this is technically not a punitive damages case at all. The district court awarded $40 million in "enhanced damages," which are authorized under the Lanham Patent Act for cases of wilful infringement. Such damages are conceptually similar to punitive damages (since they are awarded to punish the defendant, not to compensate the plaintiff), but they are not true "punitive damages" in the traditional sense of that term. Sorry for the misinformation. Nothing to see here. Move along.