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United States Supreme Court


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Limelight Networks, Inc v. Akamai Technologies, Inc.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: June 2, 2014
Case #: 12-786
Alito, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/12-786_664d.pdf

Patents: A defendant is not liable for inducing patent infringement when there has been no direct infringement upon the patent.

Respondent is the sole licensee of a "patent that claims a method of delivering electronic data using a content delivery network (CDN)." Petitioner operates a similar system which uses the same steps as Respondent's CDN, however in the Petitioner's CDN, the customers carry out one of the steps. Respondent claimed that Petitioner infringed its patent.

Patent infringement occurs when there is direct infringement upon another party's product, a violation under 35 U.S.C. §271(a) and §271(b). A method patent consists of a sequence of steps. In order to find that a party induced patent infringement, a court must find that the infringing party also directly infringed upon the patent. 

The Federal Circuit Court held that the violation of direct infringement of a patent occurs when some, but not all, of the steps of a method patent can be attributed to a single party, even though no one was liable for direct infringement.  The Supreme Court reversed the decision, holding that for there to be direct patent infringement, a party must copy all of the steps that were patented not merely use some of the steps. Thus, because no single party directly infringed upon Respondent's method patent, Petitioner is not liable for inducing patent infringement as there was no direct infringement.