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ABA urges U.S. Supreme Court to consider clarification to single-entity patent law

ABA urges U.S. Supreme Court to consider clarification to single-entity patent law

By John Glynn

CHICAGO, March 4, 2014 — In the first case to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on an increasingly widespread issue in patent law, Limelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Technologies, Inc. and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the American Bar Association filed an amicus brief on Monday that calls for clarification of the law that applies when the combined conduct of multiple parties is alleged to infringe another’s method patent. 

In its brief supporting neither party, the ABA urges the Supreme Court to reject the current “single-entity” rule under which a party that performed some, but not all, of the steps of a method patent cannot be liable for direct infringement. 

Based on policy developed by the ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law’s 24,000 members, the brief states that this rule “permits many situations in which two entities collaborate with respect to a patented method yet escape liability for infringement, a result that offends basic notions of justice and fails to protect patent holders’ rights.” 

The brief urges clarification that one or more entities may be liable for direct infringement when one entity directs or controls other entities in performing steps of a patented multi-step process – or multiple entities acted together to perform, control or direct all of the steps of the process as part of a common design or purpose.  As the brief states: “Refusal to provide a remedy for direct infringement despite the fact that every element set forth in a patent claim has been satisfied weakens the incentive to invent.”

The ABA's amicus brief is available online here.

With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at www.ambar.org/news and on Twitter @ABANews.

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