Power Integrations, Inc. v. Fairchild Semiconductor International, Inc., No. 16-2691 (Fed. Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
The parties manufacture power supply controller chips--integrated circuits used in power supplies, such as chargers that transform AC electricity from an outlet into DC electricity, to power electronic devices. A switching regulator directs the transistor in the circuit when to turn on and off, to provide the desired amount of power. Power’s patents cover switching regulators. Prior-art regulators were inefficient during low power periods, creating loud noise and delivering power in an intermittent fashion. Power’s 079 patent addressed this problem by reducing the frequency of on/off cycles rather than by skipping cycles altogether, using feedback signals. Power’s 908 patent covers a power supply controller--an integrated circuit that can perform a variety of power-regulation functions. A jury found Fairchild literally infringed claims of the 079 patent and infringed two claims of the 908 patent under the doctrine of equivalents. Another jury awarded damages of roughly $140 million, finding that the entire market value rule applied in calculating damages for infringement of the 079 patent. The Federal Circuit affirmed judgments of infringement but vacated the award, concluding that the entire market value rule cannot be used to calculate damages. Power did not show that the patented feature was the sole driver of consumer demand, i.e., that it alone motivated consumers to buy the accused products.