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Competence Of Proffered Counsel Opinions Is Relevant To Willful Infringement

March 3, 2006

In upholding a district court decision concerning willful infringement and the awarding of attorneys' fees, a Federal Circuit panel in Golden Blount, Inc v. Peterson Co. , (Nos. 04-1609,05-1141,-1202; February 15, 2006) finds, in agreement with the district court, that the accused infringer could not rely on oral opinion of counsel to avoid willful infringement because counsel did not examine either the patent‘s prosecution history or the accused device. The panel views Knorr Bremse as addressing only adverse inferences based on absence of an opinion letter. In this case the accused infringer “did not assert a privilege and ‘offered up' the opinions of counsel as a defense.” Therefore, the competence of these opinions is deemed relevant and as having been properly considered.

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