Feeds

Supreme Court nixes idea of 'indirect' patent infringement

Akamai v Limelight decision overturns partial liability rule

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The US Supreme Court has issued a ruling that could help shield companies and end users from patent-troll lawsuits.

The court on Monday issued a unanimous ruling to overturn a Federal Circuit court ruling in the case of Akamai v. Limelight.

In the opinion, written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito on behalf of the unified court, the Supreme Court argued that in order for a patent infringement decision to be issued, a defendant has to have been shown to infringe upon all steps in a patent rather than a portion.

The ruling overturns an infringement decision against content delivery network operator Limelight. Rival Akamai had charged that Limelight had partially infringed upon its patents for delivering content over private networks, then provided its customers with instructions on how to perform the final steps in the process.

In issuing the ruling, the court said that in order for a group or individual to be found in violation of a patent, that single party must perform all the steps involved in the infringement. As end users performed the final steps in its process, Limelight could not be found liable.

"A defendant is not liable for inducing infringement under [US Code] §271(b) when no one has directly infringed under §271(b) or any other statutory position," Alito wrote in the ruling (PDF).

"Liability for inducement must be predicated on direct infringement."

The case had been seen as an important test for patent litigation, as opponents worried that a decision in Akamai's favor would open the door for "patent troll" entities to flood courts with more audacious claims of patent infringement by vendors and possibly even end users.

Among those groups who had petitioned against the Circuit Court ruling against Limelight was the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the digital rights group that has long stood in opposition to patent trolls and "stupid" patent claims.

Following Monday's ruling, the EFF said that in overturning the Circuit Court ruling, the nation's top court had protected users from being hit with infringement suits when they hadn't knowingly done so.

"The Federal Circuit reasoned that in this case, despite the text of the statute, Congress would have wanted the defendant to be found liable even though its customers performed one of the steps of the patent," wrote EFF staff attorney Vera Ranieri.

"The Supreme Court saw the mischief that the Federal Circuit's approach could cause, finding 'no principled reason' that would prevent the Federal Circuit from finding infringement in other circumstances based on a notion that 'Congress would have wanted it' (even though Congress never actually did)." ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
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.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.