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American Medical Systems, Inc. v. Medical Engineering Corp.
United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
6 F.3d 1523, 28 U.S.P.Q.2d 1321 (1993)
American Medical Systems, Inc. (AMS) (plaintiff) held a patent on a prosthetic device. Prior to issuance of the patent, AMS shipped more than 8,000 of the devices without marking them—i.e., providing notice to the public that the product was patented. After the patent was issued, AMS shipped nearly 2,000 more unmarked prostheses. On October 15, 1986, AMS began shipping marked prostheses. On October 28 of the same year, AMS brought suit against Medical Engineering Corporation (MEC) for infringement of the patent. The lawsuit was MEC’s first notice of potential infringement. The federal district court held that the patent was valid and infringed. However, the court limited AMS’s damages to the period after the lawsuit was filed, citing violation of 35 U.S.C. § 287(a), a provision that the court interpreted as requiring a patentee to provide notice of a product’s patent status before damages could be available for infringement. MEC appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. AMS cross-appealed on the damages issue.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Michel, J.)
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