Distinguishing Damages Paid from Compensation Received: A Thought Experiment
40 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2017
Date Written: August 4, 2017
This symposium contribution argues that the shortcomings of patent damages doctrine arise in part from the conflicting normative aims of this body of law. On the one hand, patent damages should provide just enough compensation to induce invention and commercialization of a technology but nothing more, thus mitigating deadweight loss. On the other hand, damages should deter infringement and shunt would-be infringers into licensing negotiations with patentees. The current regime of “make-whole” damages largely effectuates the second aim by providing patentees with the full market value of their infringed technologies, even when such damages exceed inducement costs. To help resolve this divergence, this Article proposes distinguishing the amount of compensation that patentees receive from the amount of damages that infringers pay. Within this framework, infringers would pay damages based on the current regime of make-whole damages, thus deterring infringement and encouraging licensing. However, courts would compensate a patentee up to this amount based on the patentee’s inducement costs of invention and commercialization, including a reasonable profit. If make-whole damages paid by an infringer exceed inducement costs, courts would allocate any surplus to government agencies to fund research and development, thus advancing the goals of the patent system. This Article assesses the pros and cons of this proposal, observing that such a “decoupling” regime encourages patentees and infringers to settle, thus eliminating any patent surplus. This is a feature rather than a bug, however, as such settlement would promote more competitive market entry relative to the current status quo while guarding against overly diminishing incentives to invent.
Keywords: patents, infringement, damages, remedies, inducement, decoupling, settlement
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