Defendant Shine Bathrooms had already been hit with an order for default judgment and double damages in a patent case brought by Robern, Inc.  And the hits keep coming for Shine, as it was recently ordered to pay over $250,000 in attorneys’ fees under the “exceptional case” standard of 35 U.S.C. § 285.

Notably, Judge Seeborg awarded attorneys’ fees even though there had been no explicit finding of willfulness.  The opinion explains the relationship between willfulness and exceptional case fees: a finding of willfulness is “a sufficient basis” for awarding exceptional case attorneys’ fees, and “when a trial court denies attorney fees in spite of a finding of willful infringement, the court must explain why the case is not ‘exceptional.’”[1]  An express finding of willfulness is not an absolute prerequisite, however.  In Shine’s case, even though there had not been an explicit finding of willfulness in the order for default judgement, “most of the factors relevant to awarding enhanced damages—including those related to willfulness—weighed heavily against defendant.”[2]


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In early 2018, Simpson Strong-Tie Company, Inc. (“Simpson”) filed a declaratory judgement action against Defendant-Patentee OZ-Post International, LLC (“OZCO”).  Simpson had received a “demand letter” from OZCO that identified Simpson’s Outdoor Accents structural wood screw and hex-head washer ([1], [2]):

 


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