California - A Texas federal judge hit Citrix Systems Inc. Monday with an additional $5 million in enhanced damages to cap a $10 million jury verdict finding the company liable for infringing an SSL Services LLC patent for virtual private networking software.
SSL filed the action against Citrix in 2008 asserting infringement of U.S. Patent Number 6,061,796, and in May 2009 amended its complaint to add claims of infringement of U.S. Patent Number 6,158,011.
In June, following a five day trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict finding Citrix did not infringe the '796 patent, but did infringe several claims of the '011 patent. The jury also found that the '011 patent was not invalid and that Citrix's infringement is willful, and handed down lump-sum damages of $10 million.
Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the Eastern District of Texas noted that he had the authority to treble the jury's damage award given the circumstances of the case, but opted for a lesser enhancement of $5 million instead.
"The court believes that trebling the damages is not appropriate in this case," the judge said. "However, some lesser but meaningful enhancement is warranted in light of Citrix's willful infringement and its failure to investigate the '011 patent, despite having actual knowledge of the '011 patent . . . since 2000."
Enhanced damages are a punitive measure taken by a court to penalize a willful infringer for his or her increased culpability, but a court must refrain from awarding damages based on the weight of the evidence supporting willfulness and the closeness of the issues at trial, Judge Gilstrap said.
Citrix's failure to investigate the '011 patent year after year -- and after it became aware of the patent -- far outweighs any good-faith belief that it may have formed when it finally did investigate the patent and initiated the reexamination proceedings, he said.