Sheridan Ross partners Robert Brunelli and Benjamin Lieb were quoted in a Law360 roundup published on June 2, 2014 on the significance of two United States Supreme Court rulings in Nautilus Inc. v. Biosig Instruments Inc. and Limelight Networks Inc. v. Akamai Technologies Inc. matters.
In Nautilus, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Circuit’s long-standing precedent for proving a patent indefinite allowed for too much ambiguity.
“The Supreme Court, in again reversing the Federal Circuit, held that the definiteness requirements of the patent statutes mandate clarity, while somewhat confusingly still recognizing that absolute precision in claim drafting is unattainable,” said Brunelli. “The Federal Circuit’s standard, which the Court noted tolerated some ambiguities in claims, was too lenient, with the Court remanding the case for a determination of whether the at issue patent claims were indefinite under its more exacting standard.”
“The Court’s continued attack on the patent system in general, and Patentees in particular, is unfortunate, but not unexpected given other recent decisions from the Court,” he continued.
In Limelight, the U.S. Supreme Court set aside a Federal Circuit decision that lowered the standard for proving induced infringement, ruling that induced infringement can be found only when one party performs every, not any, step.
According to Benjamin Lieb, the Supreme Court’s decision in Limelight correctly narrowed the circumstances under which one can be liable for inducing infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271(b). Prior to the Limelight decision, one could be liable for inducement where one performed some steps of a patented method and induced another to perform the remaining steps. It was not necessary for a single actor to perform all steps of the claimed method and thus there could be liability for inducing infringement even without a direct infringer. The Limelight decision now makes clear that one may be liability for inducing infringement of a method patent only if there is direct infringement of that patent, meaning there must be at least one third party who has practiced all steps of a claimed method.