Virgin Atlantic v Zodiac Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited v Zodiac Seats UK Limited (formerly known as Contour Aerospace Limited), UK Supreme Court, 3 July 2013,  UKSC 46
This judgment of the Supreme Court fundamentally changes the approach of the UK courts to the award of damages in patent cases, where the patent is subsequently held to be invalid in separate proceedings. A defendant held to have infringed a valid patent can now, in an enquiry as to damages, rely on the subsequent finding of invalidity.
Zodiac had been held to have infringed a valid claim of Virgin Atlantic’s patent relating to the design and layout of reclining seats for use in aeroplanes and no further appeal was possible. However, in parallel EPO opposition proceedings, the patent was subsequently amended to a form in which none of the claims would have been infringed by Zodiac. The Court of Appeal, relying on legal authorities going back over 100 years, held that cause of action estoppel prevented Zodiac from challenging the earlier finding of infringement and validity, with the result that Zodiac was still liable to pay whatever damages were awarded following the enquiry – a sum estimated to be close to £50 million.