September 03, 2015 Articles

Commil v. Cisco Systems: The End of Induced Infringement?

Recent decision confirmed requirement of both knowledge of the asserted patent and the infringing nature of the accused acts

By Jonathan A. Choa

The big headline from the Supreme Court's recent decision in Commil USA, LLC v. Cisco Systems, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 1920 (2015), was that a good-faith belief in the invalidity of an asserted patent is no longer a defense to induced infringement. What the Supreme Court gave patent holders with one hand, however, it took away with the other by reaffirming its decision in Global-Tech Appliances, Inc. v. SEB S.A., 131 S. Ct. 2060 (2011). In the first part of its opinion in Commil, the Supreme Court rejected the argument from Commil and the United States government that induced infringement under 35 U.S.C. section 271(b) requires knowledge of only the asserted patent and not knowledge of whether the induced acts are actually infringing. Relying on its prior decision in Global-Tech, the Court confirmed that induced infringement under section 271(b) requires both knowledge of the asserted patent and the infringing nature of the accused acts. With that holding, Commil is the culmination of a series of decisions by the Federal Circuit and the Supreme Court that have steadily restricted claims for induced infringement.

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