U.S. Supreme Court Requires Direct Infringement for Liability of Induced Infringement

June 2, 2014

By: Mary K. Murray, Ph.D.

Hamilton Brook Smith Reynolds Alert

  • Liability for induced infringement of a method claim in a patent requires a finding that one party performs all the steps in the claim and, therefore, is liable for direct infringement.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously reversed a finding by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that held a party can be liable for induced infringement in the absence of direct infringement (Limelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Technologies, Inc. et al. case number 12-786, U.S. Supreme Court).  Limelight Networks operates a content delivery network and was sued by Akamai Technologies, Inc. for infringement of its patent.  Limelight performs many, but not all, of the steps claimed in Akamai’s method.  A step referred to as “tagging” is carried out by customers of Limelight.  Thus, no single entity performs all of the steps in Akamai’s claimed method.

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) held that Limelight was liable for induced infringement even though it did not perform all the steps of the claimed method.  The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously reversed the CAFC decision and held that a party cannot be liable for induced infringement “when no one has directly infringed” a claimed method because “[l]iability for inducement must be predicated on direct infringement.”  The Supreme Court remanded the case back to the CAFC for further proceedings consistent with the opinion.
 

Overview

June 2, 2014

By: Mary K. Murray, Ph.D.

Hamilton Brook Smith Reynolds Alert

  • Liability for induced infringement of a method claim in a patent requires a finding that one party performs all the steps in the claim and, therefore, is liable for direct infringement.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously reversed a finding by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that held a party can be liable for induced infringement in the absence of direct infringement (Limelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Technologies, Inc. et al. case number 12-786, U.S. Supreme Court).  Limelight Networks operates a content delivery network and was sued by Akamai Technologies, Inc. for infringement of its patent.  Limelight performs many, but not all, of the steps claimed in Akamai’s method.  A step referred to as “tagging” is carried out by customers of Limelight.  Thus, no single entity performs all of the steps in Akamai’s claimed method.

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) held that Limelight was liable for induced infringement even though it did not perform all the steps of the claimed method.  The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously reversed the CAFC decision and held that a party cannot be liable for induced infringement “when no one has directly infringed” a claimed method because “[l]iability for inducement must be predicated on direct infringement.”  The Supreme Court remanded the case back to the CAFC for further proceedings consistent with the opinion.
 

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