Federal Circuit Reverses District Court Damages by $90M+ in Patent Litigation Suit Against ION Geophysical Corporation

Firm News

On July 2, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. issued a ruling in WesternGeco L.L.C. v. ION Geophysical Corporation, reversing in part and affirming in part the patent infringement judgment against ION in favor of WesternGeco granted by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas in May 2014.  Porter Hedges represented ION in the district court litigation, including during a month-long trial in July and August 2012, and assisted with the appellate case at the Federal Circuit.

WesternGeco originally filed the lawsuit in June 2009, alleging that ION's DigiFIN™ device and control system infringed numerous patented method and apparatus claims related to marine seismic streamer steering.  After more than a year and a half of post-trial briefing, the trial court entered final judgment in May 2014 in favor of WesternGeco and ordered ION to pay $123.8 million in damages, costs, and prejudgment interest to WesternGeco, where $93.4 million related to lost profits for marine surveys conducted by ION's customers outside U.S. waters.

ION appealed to the Federal Circuit, where the Firm assisted ION's lead appellate counsel, David Healey of Fish & Richardson.  Oral argument was held on March 6, 2015.

In its July 2 opinion, the Federal Circuit panel partially reversed, holding the district court erred by including lost profits in the final judgment. Ultimately, the decision slashes the judgment to approximately $20-24 million, which includes pre-judgment and post-judgment interest. The opinion is not yet a final judgment and could be subject to further proceedings.

Porter Hedges partner Ray Torgerson noted, "After many years, we are pleased with the Federal Circuit panel's decision to reverse the decision of the trial court on extraterritorial lost profits.  We have consistently maintained that WesternGeco was not entitled to such damages.  It feels like a measure of vindication."  Porter Hedges partner Jonathan Pierce added, "We have looked forward to this day for some time.  We remain committed to ION's defense and bringing this protracted dispute to an end."

Jamey Seely, Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary and Phillip Shotts, Senior Counsel and Chief Intellectual Property Manager are ION's primary in-house counsel.