Thursday, June 05, 2014

Patents "in the LimeLight": U.S. Supreme Court Makes Short Work of Limelight v. Akamai and Reverses Absurd Federal Circuit Court Decision on "Two-Party Patent Infringement"

Two-Party Patent Infringement? Not in SCOTUS!

In Limelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Techs., Inc., 110 U.S.P.Q.2d 1681 (U.S. 2014) [2014 BL 151636] the U.S. Supreme Court once again put the Federal Circuit in its proper place as a matter of its flawed legal understanding.

As we noted in our March 12, 2013 LawPundit posting at A Patent on Searching for Real Estate via a Map? Federal Circuit Continues with Absurd Patent Decision-Making:
"the Federal Circuit's absurd decision in Akamai Technologies, Inc. v. Limelight Networks, Inc. [was] perhaps one of the worst legal decisions ever to issue from a US court of law". 
On June 2, 2014, a unanimous Supreme Court in an opinion written by Justice Alito, reversed and remanded that Federal Circuit decision.

Alito writes in his opinion in Limelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Techs., Inc., 110 U.S.P.Q.2d 1681 (U.S. 2014) [2014 BL 151636] as follows (our excerpting):
"This case presents the question whether a defendant may be liable for inducing infringement of a patent under 35 U.S.C. §271(b) when no one has directly infringed the patent under §271(a) or any other statutory provision. The statutory text and structure and our prior case law require that we answer this question in the negative. We accordingly reverse the Federal Circuit, which reached the opposite conclusion....

[1] Neither the Federal Circuit ... nor respondents ... dispute the proposition that liability for inducement must be predicated on direct infringement. This is for good reason, as our case law leaves no doubt that inducement liability may arise "if, but only if, [there is] . . . direct infringement." ...
One might think that this simple truth is enough to dispose of this appeal....

The Federal Circuit's analysis fundamentally misunderstands what it means to infringe a method patent....

[W]hen Congress wishes to impose liability for inducing activity that does not itself constitute direct infringement, it knows precisely how to do so. The courts should not create liability for inducement of non-infringing conduct where Congress has elected not to extend that concept."
Clear enough.

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