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WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp.

138 S. Ct. 2129 (2018)

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WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp.

United States Supreme Court

138 S. Ct. 2129 (2018)

Facts

WesternGeco LLC (plaintiff) owned several patents relating to a system that it developed for surveying the ocean floor. ION Geophysical Corp. (ION) (defendant) began selling a competing system. ION manufactured the components for its system in the United States and then shipped the components to companies abroad. Those companies combined the components to create a system that was indistinguishable from WesternGeco’s. WesternGeco sued for patent infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271(f). The jury found ION liable and awarded WesternGeco a large sum in lost profits. ION filed a post-trial motion to set aside the verdict. ION argued that WesternGeco could not recover damages for lost profits because § 271(f) did not apply extraterritorially. The trial court denied ION’s motion. ION appealed. The appeals court reversed the award of lost-profits damage. The Supreme Court granted certiorari, vacated the appeals court’s judgment, and remanded the case. On remand, the appeals court reinstated the portion of its decision degrading the extraterritoriality of § 271(f). The Supreme Court again granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Thomas, J.)

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