Contributory Infringement : CAFC Alert

Direct infringement requires that party exercises “control or direction” over performance of each claimed step, but inducement does not have single-entity requirement

Shuji Yoshizaki | March 11, 2013

Move, Inc. v. Real Estate Alliance Ltd.

March 4, 2013

Panel:  Rader, Lourie and Moore.  Opinion by Lourie

Summary:

REAL owns the ’989 patent, directed to methods for locating real estate properties using a zoom-enabled map on a computer.  Move operates websites that allow users to search for available real estate properties.  REAL alleged that the functions employed by Move’s websites infringed REAL’s claims.  In the recent en banc decision of Akamai, CAFC decided an issue of divided infringement under § 271(b).  On the issue of direct infringement under § 271(a), CAFC found that there is no genuine issue of material fact that Move does not control or direct the performance of each step of the claimed method.  Therefore, Move is not liable for direct infringement.  However, CAFC vacated the summary judgment regarding indirect infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271(b).  In en banc in Akamai, all the steps of a claimed method must be performed in order to find induced infringement, but that it is not necessary to prove that all the steps were committed by a single entity.  Since the district court summarily concluded that because Move, as a single party, was not liable for direct infringement, it could not be liable for joint infringement.  However, in Akamai, a single-entity requirement is not required in the inducement context.

Real社はコンピュータ上で拡大することが可能な地図を使用して、不動産物件の所在地を示す方法に関する特許を所有していた。一 方、Move社らは、ユーザーが不動産物件を探すことができるウェブサイトを運営していた。Real社は、Move社のウェブサイト機能がReal社の特 許を侵害すると主張した。

CAFCは特許法271条(b)項における共同侵害の成立要件に関して、昨年、Akamai判決(大法廷)を下し たが、本件では、Move社はクレーム方法の各ステップの実行を監督したり指示したりしていないので、特許法271条(a)項の直接侵害に関しては事実関 係についての実質的な争いはない。したがって、Move社の直接侵害はないと判断した地裁判決は正しい。

しかしながら、誘発侵害成立のため には、方法クレームの全てのステップが実行されることが条件ではあるが、全てのステップが単独で被告によって実行されていることは必ずしも要件ではないこ とをAkamai判決では判示した。ところが、本件の地裁判決は、Move社が単独で直接侵害がないがゆえに、共同侵害もないと判断している。 Akamai判決に従うならば、被告が単独で全てのステップを実施したかどうかは誘発侵害成立の要件にはならない。よって、特許法271条(b)項の間接 侵害に関する地裁のサマリージャッジメントを破棄し、誘発侵害の認定を地裁に差し戻した。


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Liability for Induced Infringement of a Method Claim No Longer Requires Proof of Direct Infringement

Cindy Chen | September 14, 2012

Akamai Technologies, Inc. and MIT v. Limelight Networks, Inc.

McKesson Technologies, Inc. v. Epic Systems Corp.

August 31, 2012

Panel: Rader, Newman, Lourie, Bryson, O’Malley, Linn, Dyk, Prost, Reyna and Wallach (en banc)

Per curiam opinion, joined by Rader, Lourie, Bryson, Moore, Reyna, and Wallach.  Dissent by Linn, joined by Dyk, Prost, and O’Malley.  Dissent by Newman.

Summary

In a 6-5 en banc decision, the Federal Circuit rejected precedents and relaxed the standard of proof for finding induced infringement under 37 USC §271(b).  Traditionally, induced infringement requires a two-pronged showing of (1) knowing inducement to infringe and (2) actual direct infringement of the patent.  In fact, direct infringement had long been held as the sine qua non of indirect infringement liability. The court’s new standard, however, eliminates the direct infringement requirement. Now, in cases involving method claims, inducement liability follows if the accused infringer (1) had knowledge of the patent, (2) induced others’ performance of the steps of the method claims, and (3) the steps were actually performed. Liability also follows if the accused infringer performed some of the steps of the claims and then knowingly induced another to perform the remaining steps.


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CAFC pointers on proving lack of “substantial non-infringing uses” in pleading contributory infringement

Le-Nhung McLeland | June 20, 2012

Toshiba Corporation v. Imation Corp.

Jun 11, 2012

Panel:  Dyk, Schall, and Moore.  Opinion by Moore.  Dissent by Dyk.

Summary:

(1)   Grant of summary judgment of non-infringement as to contributory infringement of ‘751 patent affirmed because plaintiff did not meet burden of proof that there was a lack of substantial non-infringing uses.

(2)   Grant of summary judgment of non-infringement as to induced infringement of ‘751 patent vacated because district court erred as a matter of law in holding that the existence of a substantial non-infringing use precludes a finding of induced infringement.

(3)   Grant of summary judgment of non-infringement of ‘966 patent vacated because it was based on erroneous claim construction.

(4)   No clear “take away” on claim construction from discourse between majority and dissent.


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