According to GlobalSantaFe Corporation
, a Houston jury has returned a verdict upholding the dual drilling activity patents of Transocean Inc.
and ordered GlobalSantaFe to pay damages of $3.6m for using the patented structures on two of its offshore rigs. The jury also found that GlobalSantaFe willfully infringed the patents, which gives the court the discretion to enhance the damage award. The trial, which began last week in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas
, Houston Division, addressed the use of the patented structures only within U.S. territorial waters. In June 2006, the European Patent Office revoked Transocean's dual activity patent claims. Transocean is expected to follow today's jury verdict with a request that the court issue an injunction preventing further use of certain dual drilling capabilities on the GSF Development Driller I and GSF Development Driller II semisubmersible rigs within U.S. territorial waters. GlobalSantaFe intends to appeal the verdict, and the court may stay such an injunction pending an appeal. If an injunction were issued and became effective, it would limit some dual activity functions aboard the two GlobalSantaFe rigs. However, such an injunction would not prevent the rigs from continuing their operations and fulfilling their current contracts in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, subject to some reduction in dayrate when the specified dual activity capabilities of the rigs were limited by the injunction.