Michael Cicero is an intellectual property attorney with Taylor English Duma, LLP, located in Atlanta, Georgia. His career in the private practice of intellectual property law includes litigation and spans over 30 years. Michael currently represents clients in patent prosecution and opinions, trademark prosecution, and copyright matters. Since 2016, Michael has co-authored the trademark infringement and copyright infringement portions of the IP Litigation chapter appearing in Georgia Business Litigation, a book available through ALM Publications.
In Allen v. Cooper, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act of 1990 (CRCA) (codified at 17 U.S.C. §§ 501(a) & 511) did not abrogate a state’s sovereign immunity from copyright infringement liability. A casual reading of that decision might have led one to reasonably believe that it ended the plaintiffs’ copyright case. After all, the Supreme Court indicated that it affirmed a holding that the CRCA was “invalid.” But, as with so many other issues encountered in the legal realm, much lies below the surface. The aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision cast light on the realization that the Court addressed only “prophylactic” abrogation, which seeks to deter constitutional harm before it occurs. On remand, the plaintiffs convinced the district court to consider whether the state’s sovereign immunity could be negated via a “case by case” type of abrogation, which requires actual violation of both a federal statute and the Fourteenth Amendment.
On June 13, 2016, the Supreme Court decided Halo Elecs., Inc. v. Pulse Elecs., Inc., addressing standards for recovery of enhanced damages for patent infringement pursuant to Section 284 of the Patent Act, under which a “court may increase the damages up to three times the amount found or assessed.” In Halo, the Supreme Court rejected damages-related requirements imposed by In re Seagate Tech., LLC, a 2007 decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. With patentee litigants freed from what the Supreme Court called Seagate’s “inelastic constraints” in favor of a totality-of-circumstances approach, a consensus developed that Halo would facilitate recovery of enhanced damages. Statistics suggest alignment with that view.