Emeryville, California (EastBayDaily) — On August 31, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington reversed a lower court’s decision in Akamai Technologies, Inc. v. Limelight Networks, Inc., 2009-1372, -1380, -1416, -1417. The U.S. Court of Appeals had previously ruled that Limelight had not committed any infringement because the company did not perform all of the steps covered by the Akamai patent. The Court’s decision had reversed a previous verdict made by a jury in a lower court that awarded $45,500,000 to Akamai. The expert patent attorneys of Bay Area Technology Law Group explain how this ruling could affect future legal disputes involving infringement and patent law.
Malcolm Wittenberg, an intellectual property attorney at Bay Area Technology Law Group, explains that at the heart of the case was whether a company can be held liable for patent infringement when other parties carry out parts of a claimed innovation. Akamai Technologies and Limelight Networks both offer content delivery services that improve the speed and capacity of their respective customers’ websites. Companies such as Hulu and Netflix, for example, use content delivery networks to store and distribute their content, such as movies or music, to computers and other devices. The Court previously ruled that no infringement was carried out since some of the websites, not solely Limelight, carried out steps of the patent.
Wittenberg notes that in hearing the case, the judges of the Federal Circuit did not focus on whether Limelight could be held liable for direct infringement, but rather addressed the issue of whether Limelight could be found liable for inducing another party to execute parts of the patented method.
According to the Court’s decision, it is no longer necessary for a single entity to perform all steps of a method claim for another party to be held liable for induced infringement [35 U.S.C. §271(b)]. As noted in 35 U.S.C. §271(b), “whoever actively induces infringement of a patent shall be liable as an infringer.” Thus, one can be found liable for inducement when multiple entities perform the claimed method steps as long as that party knew of the patent, had induced performance of the steps of the claimed method, and that those steps were in fact performed, whether or not by single or multiple parties.
The ruling could have implications for future patent disputes covering areas such as software, financial systems, and medical diagnostic testing. “It had been assumed that a single party had to perform all steps of a patented method to be found guilty of infringement,” explains Wittenberg. “However, it is commonplace for multiple parties, such as ISPs, content providers and web hosting services, to jointly participate in performing services that collectively may result in infringement. This decision makes it much easier to assert a patent against one of the participants as an inducer of infringement even if the inducer performed only some (but not all) of the claimed method steps.”
For more information about patent infringement or any of Bay Area Technology Law Group’s products or services, call them at (415) 868-4682 or visit them online at http://www.batechlaw.com.
About Bay Area Technology Law Group Bay Area Technology Law Group is a law firm focusing exclusively on the practice of intellectual property law.
The firm's intellectual property, patent and trademark attorneys, Malcolm B. Wittenberg, Bill Wigert and Nathan Koenig have, between them, almost 100 years of experience in this area of the law. The firm is capable of working in virtually any field of technology and with offices in San Francisco and Sonoma County, is dedicated to servicing the intellectual property needs of the San Francisco Bay Area.