Recent Federal Circuit Decision Changes Law On Divided Infringement

On August 31, 2012, the Federal Circuit issued its long awaited decision inAkamai v. Limelight. Although it did not specifically address the law of direct infringement, the Court did overrule its previous decision on induced infringement. No longer is it necessary for a single entity to perform all of the steps of a method claim for another party to be liable for induced infringement. A party may now be found liable for inducement where multiple entities perform the required method steps, as long as (1) that party knew of the patent, (2) that party induced performance of the steps of that patent, and (3) those steps were performed (whether by a single entity or multiple entities). Entities can no longer avoid liability for induced infringement simply because method steps are performed by multiple entities, and this new rule applies to cases in which steps are divided among the inducer and other third parties.

This change in the law should be considered when (1) determining potential inducers, and (2) formulating positions on third party patents. As always, we are available to discuss any of these issues.