Feeds

SCOTUS asked to overturn patent-troll's charter

Akamai vs Limelight 'induced infringement' decision challenged

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

The tech world – and plenty of others, The Register suspects – is waiting with a little trepidation to hear the outcome of a patent battle between Akamai and Limelight Networks that's currently occupying the brainspace of the US Supreme Court.

Arguments have been heard in the case, which combines some of the most entertaining aspects of US patent law: software patents, secondary infringement, and whether there's an extra-territorial reach in US patent law.

The fight stretches back to Akamai's 2006 complaint that Limelight's content delivery network infringed its patents. Limelight's defence was that it wasn't infringing the whole of the patent, since some steps in its process were completed not in its content delivery network, but in the computers of end users.

As explained here, Limelight's defence rested on a principle in US law that “direct infringement of a patented method requires that the alleged infringer or those under his or her legal control perform all the steps of the method”.

By splitting operations between itself and its customers, Limelight convinced the original district court that it was not a direct infringer of Akamai's methods, and the court agreed. That eventually brought the case in front of the full Federal Circuit, which in 2012 overturned the earlier decisions.

It's that Federal Circuit decision that's adding the extra spice to the case, and getting the Supreme Court's considerations such a strong following, for two reasons.

The first is that the 2012 decision decided that induced infringement (putting a user of technology in jeopardy rather than merely the alleged infringer) didn't have to rely on a direct infringement – putting Limelight in the position of being responsible for the actions of its customers and, as the EFF notes here, meaning that anyone could be sued for performing an action that violated a single step of a patent.

That, the EFF is arguing, is the kind of thinking that encourages patent trolls, like Innovatio, which notoriously sued end-users of WiFi access points it thought infringed its patents. Cisco beat off the threat to users in February this year, at the cost of accepting some of the troll's claims.

The second reason people are taking a strong interest in the case is that it creates the potential for extra-territorial application of US patent law – since the court is allowed to consider behaviours that only infringe part of the patent, it could also consider actions that take place outside the USA.

Reuters notes that Limelight's backers include Google, Cisco and Oracle, while those lining up behind Akamai come from pharmaceutical outfits like Eli Lilly and Myriad Genetics.

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its judgement in June 2014. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.