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No inducement to infringe without direct infringement

20 June, 2014

Reasoning that protection under patent laws is for a set of claimed elements, the Supreme Court of USA has on 2-6-2014 held that when there is no direct infringement, a person cannot be liable for inducing infringement. Also, a method patent is not infringed unless all the steps are carried out.  Several steps in the process of delivering electronic data through Content Delivery Network (CDN) were common to the process used by both the parties.

At issue were certain steps called ‘tagging’ – storing of certain content on the service provider’s server – which was done by the petitioner’s (Limelight Networks Inc) customers who used its services. The respondents (Akamai Technologies) contended that though all steps of the process were not carried out by the petitioner, that is, there was no direct infringement, it had induced infringement by making the customers perform some of the steps. However, the Supreme Court did not agree to this view observing that if infringement was considered in part, a person who makes another perform one of more and not the entire process would still be liable as an inducer though there was no direct infringement.
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