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5 June 2014


  • Stephen E. Baskin
    T +1 202 263 3364
  • Paul W. Hughes
    T +1 202 263 3147
  • Sharon A. Israel
    T +1 713 238 2630
  • Andrew J. Pincus
    T +1 202 263 3220

US Supreme Court Overturns Federal Circuit on Liability for Inducing Infringement and Standard for Definiteness of Patent Claims: What Does This Mean for Patent Owners and Challengers?

The US Supreme Court issued two decisions on June 2, 2014—each unanimously reversing the Federal Circuit—that may have significant consequences for patent owners and challengers.

Limelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Technologies, Inc., addressed liability for inducing infringement of a patent under 35 U.S.C. § 271(b). The Federal Circuit had held that induced infringement could be established even in the absence of proof of direct infringement. (Direct infringement could not be shown in the case because, under the Federal Circuit’s decision in Muniauction, Inc. v. Thomson Corp.—which the Supreme Court assumed to be correct, direct infringement of a method claim requires proof that the defendant either performed all the claimed steps or directed and controlled others who did so.) The Supreme Court rejected the Federal Circuit’s induced infringement rule, holding that proof of direct infringement under section 271(a) or another statute is required to prevail on an inducement claim.

In Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., the Supreme Court addressed the statutory requirement of definiteness—that the patent specification must conclude with a claim “particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming” the subject of the invention. 35 U.S.C. §112(b). The Court held that “a patent is invalid for indefiniteness if its claims, read in light of the specification delineating the patent, and the prosecution history, fail to inform, with reasonable certainty, those skilled in the art about the scope of the invention.” It rejected the Federal Circuit’s more standard, which held the definiteness requirement satisfied if the claim was “amenable to construction” or not “insolubly ambiguous.”

Please join Stephen Baskin, Paul Hughes, Sharon Israel and Andrew Pincus as they discuss:

  • What the Supreme Court’s decisions mean for patent owners and potential or accused infringers
  • The status of the “divided” infringement doctrine under Muniauction
  • How the “definiteness” standard of Nautilus will be applied
  • Trends in the Supreme Court’s patent jurisprudence

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5 June 2014
Tags: Americas

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