Supreme Court Curbs Inducement Doctrine in Limelight Networks v. Akamai Technologies


Summary -

After much anticipation, the Supreme Court delivered its opinion in Limelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Technologies, Inc., making clear that a defendant may not be liable for inducing infringement of a method patent under 35 U.S.C. § 271(b) unless direct infringement has been committed under § 271(a). The Court's 11-page ruling took the Federal Circuit to task, reversing its holding that a defendant may be liable for inducement even when there has been no direct infringement. The Court left open for another day whether the Federal Circuit's decision in Muniauction, Inc. v. Thomson Corp. – holding that direct infringement under 271(a), the predicate for a finding of inducement, requires a single party to perform every step of a claimed method – was decided properly.

Background -

Akamai Technologies is the exclusive licensee of an MIT patent (the '703 patent) for a method of delivering electronic data using a content delivery network (CDN). The '703 patent allows for certain components of a content provider's website, such as video or music files, to be designated for storage on Akamai's servers, a process called "tagging." The "tagged" files can then be accessed by Internet users at increased speeds. Limelight carries out several steps of the '703 patent, but instead of "tagging" components of its customer's websites as in the '703 patent, Limelight provides instructions and technical assistance regarding how to tag and requires its customers to perform their own "tagging."

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Topics:  Akamai Technologies, En Banc Review, Induced Infringement, Limelight Networks, Miniauction, Patent Infringement, Patent Litigation, Patents, SCOTUS

Published In: Civil Procedure Updates, Intellectual Property Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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