Using method claims to protect a device is often overlooked because conventional thinking equates device protection with only device claims. A device can, however, be protected by method claims, because a device can indirectly infringe method claims by inducement of infringement or contributory infringement. This is true even for medical or surgical method claims, which are not enforceable against direct infringers such as hospitals or doctors. 35 U.S.C. § 287(c). In fact, method claims can potentially provide broader protection for a device because they may not require a detailed device structure.
II. Indirect Patent Infringement.
The following diagram outlines factors for the two most common types of indirect patent infringement, active inducement of infringement and contributory infringement.
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