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

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.