May 26, 2015
This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Commil USA, LLC v. Cisco Systems, Inc. Reversing a 2013 decision of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the Court today held that a defendant’s good-faith belief regarding the invalidity of an asserted patent is not a defense to a claim of induced infringement. The Court reasoned that “invalidity is not a defense to infringement, it is a defense to liability. And because of that fact, a belief as to invalidity cannot negate the scienter required for induced infringement.”
In its opinion, the Court further clarified its 2011 opinion in Global-Tech Appliances, Inc. v. SEB S.A. (discussed in our earlier alert here). Rejecting contrary arguments of the patentee and of the U.S. government as amicus, the Court confirmed that “liability for induced infringement can only attach if the defendant knew of the patent and knew as well that ‘the induced acts constitute patent infringement’” (citing Global-Tech).
Today’s decision was somewhat fractured between the nine Justices, but notably, a majority of Justices concurred in each of the above points.
The decision is significant in cases involving assertions of induced patent infringement, an important fraction of patent infringement cases. If you have questions regarding this decision, please contact Fitch Even partner Allen E. Hoover, author of this alert.
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