Actual Knowledge an Element of §271(B) Inducement, but Willful Blindness Will Suffice

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The Supreme Court of the United States recently ruled that induced infringement under 35 U.S.C. §271(b) requires knowledge that the induced acts constitute patent infringement, but that liability cannot be averted through willful blindness that a copied product is patented.

On May 31, 2011, the Supreme Court of the United States essentially affirmed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in ruling (8-1) that induced infringement under 35 U.S.C. §271(b) requires knowledge that the induced acts constitute patent infringement, but that one cannot escape liability through “willful blindness” that a copied product is patented. Global-Tech Appliances Inc. v. SEB S.A., Case No. 10-6 (Justice Alito) (Justice Kennedy, dissenting). However, the Supreme Court did reject the Federal Circuit’s “deliberate indifference” standard as a substitute for knowledge.

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