WesternGeco L.L.C. v. Ion Geophysical Corp., No. 13-1527 (Fed. Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
WesternGeco’s patents relate to technologies used to search for oil and gas beneath the ocean floor. Ships tow long streamers equipped with sensors. An airgun bounces sound waves off of the ocean floor. The sensors pick up the returning sound waves and create a map of the subsurface geology to aid in identifying drilling locations. The streamers can be miles long and can tangle or drift apart, resulting in distorted maps. The patents relate to controlling the streamers and sensors in relation to each other by using winged positioning devices and generating four-dimensional maps with which it is possible to see changes in the seabed over time. WesternGeco manufactures the Q-Marine, and performs surveys for oil companies. ION manufactures the DigiFIN, and sells to its customers, who perform surveys for oil companies. WesternGeco filed suit. A jury found infringement and no invalidity and awarded $93,400,000 in lost profits and $12,500,000 in reasonable royalties. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that WesternGeco was not the owner of the patents and lacked standing and that the court applied an incorrect standard under 35 U.S.C. 271(f)(1). The court upheld denial of enhanced damages for willful infringement and reversed the award of lost profits resulting from conduct occurring abroad.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on October 30, 2015.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on September 21, 2016.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on January 11, 2019.