(Adds background on dispute, paragraphs 3-6)
WASHINGTON, June 22 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Friday that companies can recover profits lost because of the unauthorized use of their patented technology abroad in a victory for Schlumberger NV, the world's largest oilfield services provider.
The 7-2 decision overturned a lower court's ruling that had enforced limits on applying U.S. patent law overseas and reduced by $93.4 million the damages sum that rival ION Geophysical Corp had to pay for infringing Schlumberger technology that helps find oil and gas beneath the ocean floor. Both companies are based in Houston.
Internet-based companies and others had expressed concern that extending patent damages beyond national borders would expose U.S. high-technology firms to greater patent-related risks abroad.
The case involved four patents owned by Schlumberger subsidiary WesternGeco related to an invention that more efficiently completes marine seismic surveys to help identify oil and gas drilling locations.
ION developed a competing system and sold it to surveying companies abroad. WesternGeco sued in 2009, and a federal jury in Houston found that Ion infringed the patents and caused the company to lose contracts.
The jury awarded $12.5 million in royalties and $93.4 million in lost profits stemming from foreign contracts the company said it missed out on as a result of ION's infringement.
In 2015, the Washington-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which specializes in patent issues, ruled that Schlumberger could not recoup the lost profits portion because U.S. patent law does not cover the overseas use of infringing products. (Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham and Grant McCool)