Supreme Court Declines to Expand Inducement Liability: Court Holds That Direct Infringement of a Patent Pursuant to 35 U.S.C. §271(a) Is a Predicate for Induced Infringement

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP - June 3, 2014
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In Limelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Technologies, Inc., the Court unanimously reversed the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, holding that there can be no statutory liability for inducement to infringe a patent under 35 U.S.C. § 271(b) unless there has been a direct infringement of that patent under § 271(a).  Because Federal Circuit precedent requires that all steps of a method patent be performed by a single entity to constitute a violation of § 271(a), yesterday’s decision means that inducement liability under § 271(b) also bears that requirement. The Court suggested that the Federal Circuit may wish to revisit its decision requiring a single actor under § 271(a), so Limelight may not be the last word on inducement liability.