Today, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in two cases of interest to the business community:
Patents—Enhanced Damages for Willful Patent Infringement
Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc., No.
Stryker Corp. v. Zimmer, Inc., No. 14-1520
Upon a finding of willful patent infringement, the Patent Act gives a court discretion to increase damages to up to three times the amount found by the jury or assessed by the court. To assess a damages multiplier, the Federal Circuit requires the plaintiff to prove that the defendant (i) had no objectively reasonable basis for its position and (ii) acted in subjective bad faith. Last Term, in Octane Fitness, LLC v. Icon Health & Fitness, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 1749 (2014), the Supreme Court rejected a substantively identical test for determining whether attorneys' fees should be granted under the Patent Act. The Supreme Court consolidated two cases and granted certiorari to determine whether the Federal Circuit's two-part willfulness test is also barred by Octane Fitness.
Federal Power Act—Preemption
Hughes v. PPL Energyplus, No. 14-614
CPV Maryland v. PPL Energyplus, No. 14-623
The Federal Power Act splits authority among states, utilities, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). States regulate generation facilities and retail rates, while FERC has exclusive jurisdiction over regulation of wholesale rates. Maryland entered into an agreement with CPV Maryland LLC to construct a power plant in Maryland that would sell energy in federal interstate wholesale markets, in exchange for certain subsidies based on the clearing price for energy sold on the wholesale market. The Supreme Court consolidated two cases and granted certiorari to determine whether Maryland's agreement is preempted by the Federal Power Act under theories of field or conflict preemption.
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