Innovention Toys v. MGA Entertainment et. al.
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
Case No: 07-6510 (filed in 2009)
When we last reported on this case, it was remanded from the circuit court for a determination of regarding issues of non-obviousness. The case has since gone to trial and a jury verdict was reached on November 9, 2012. The jury was specifically asked whether the Defendants had proven that it is highly probable that the inventions claimed in the '242 patent would have been obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the field at the time of the invention. The jury found for Innovention stating that the ordinary level of skill in the art covered by the '242 patent would have a Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical engineering rather than the higher standard the defendants proposed. The jury also found that there were differences between the prior art and the asserted claim of the '242 patent, again in favor of Innovention. Lastly, after evaluating certain objective factors, the jury determined that the combination of the Laser Chess/Advanced Laser Chess teachings with the Swift patent would not have been obvious to a person having an ordinary level of skill. The jury then went on to determine that MGAs infringement was willful, and Innovation was awarded royalty damages in the amount of $167,455 and $1,405,708 in lost profits damages.
MGA filed a post-trial motion arguing that its infringement was not willful, but was denied. Innovention also filed a motion requesting that the Court find that the infringement was willful; that enhanced damages, attorneys' fees, costs, expert fees, and interest should be granted; and that MGA be enjoined from further infringing the '242 patent. The court denied MGA's motion and granted Innovention's in part finding that the infringement was willful; that Innovention is entitled to treble damages; that the case was exceptional allowing for the recovery of attorney's fees; that Innovention is entitled to taxable and non-taxable costs; that Innovention is entitled to $1,573,163 in pre-judgment interest; and that Innovention is entitled to post-judgment interest.
One of the more interesting aspects of this ruling was MGA's assertion that due to the game involving optics and lasers that the level of education necessary to practice the patent made it obvious. At first blush, MGA's assertion holds some water in that a game using lasers is probably highly technical; however, experts in the case testified that just because there is a highly technical element involved in practicing a patent does not mean that the level of skill necessary must also be high. Since those with a Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical engineering have some knowledge regarding optics and lasers, the level of skill was actually much lower than MGA claimed. Another interesting part of the Court's order was the granting of treble damages due to the willful infringement on the part of MGA. What is interesting is how much weight the court gave to MGA's "deplorable" behavior during litigation, citing MGA's filing of seven motions for summary judgment which were all denied as well as attempting to "frivolously" move for re-opening discovery post-trial. The court also viewed this conduct in light of the "David-versus-Goliath" relationship between Innovention (a three-person company) and MGA a "toy behemoth with sales of $300 million in 2011." The order granting the enhanced damages was entered in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on June 25, 2013.