The number of cloud computing service offerings has risen dramatically over the past couple years. At its core, cloud computing refers to the provision of remote computer resources and/or services over a network, such as the Internet.
The rise in popularity of cloud services has also led to an increased number of patent filings covering such services. Patents and patent applications for cloud technologies often include claims directed to methods or processes of performing cloud services. Given the inherently distributed nature of the cloud, it is common for such method claims to include steps that, in practice, will be performed jointly by two or more parties.
The Federal Circuit’s recent decision has made enforcing cloud method claims in a divided infringement situation somewhat easier for patentees. In its en banc opinion, the Federal Circuit found that two or more parties can be held liable for induced infringement of method claims even if no agency relationship exists among the parties.
Prior to the Federal Circuit’s en banc decision, if infringement was split among multiple actors who were not party to an agency relationship, then no party could be found liable for inducement of infringement, even if the parties’ collective actions included all of the claimed method steps.
The Federal Circuit’s en banc decision in Akamai has provided cloud computing providers that are seeking patent protection with a broader range of claim drafting strategies. Providers can now seek patent protection for method claims covering the activities of multiple parties without worrying about limited enforcement options should litigation ensue.