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On a sunny February afternoon in San Jose, Calif., a jury of seven completed its deliberations and rendered its verdict in a patent dispute. The patentee prevailed, but the damage award was a relatively paltry $278,000—significantly less than what had been requested by the plaintiff. Microsoft v. Corel, No. 5:15-CV-05836-EJD, ECF No. 319 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 13, 2018).

The jury, however, also ruled that the defendant’s infringement was willful—a ruling that not only potentially trebles the award, but may trigger an exceptional case finding with a recovery of attorney fees. Id. If realized, payment from the defendant would soar into the multiple millions. Had the case been decided two years earlier, none of this would have occurred.

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