Supreme Court No. 12-786

Akamai was the exclusive licensee of US Pat. No. 6,108,703 ("'703 patent"), which is directed to a method of delivering electronic data using a content delivery network (CDN). Limelight operates a CDN and carries out several of the steps of the ‘703 patent claims, but its customers, rather than Limelight itself, perform a step of the patent claims known as “tagging.” Akamai filed a complaint against Limelight Networks, alleging both direct and induced infringement. The district court found no induced infringement, but the Federal Circuit reversed the decision and held that "a defendant may be held liable for induced infringement of a method patent if the defendant has performed some of the steps of a claimed method and has induced other parties to commit the remaining steps, but no single party has performed all of the steps itself."

The Supreme Court reversed the Federal Court's decision, finding that because Limelight did not undertake all steps of the ’703 patent and could not have been otherwise be held responsible for all those steps, there had been no violation to the rights of the patentee, and the reason Limelight could not have induced infringement under §271(b) was -that no direct infringement was committed. The Supreme Court found unpersuasive arguments advanced by the respondents that principles from tort law, the criminal aiding and abetting doctrine, and patent law principles in existence before the 1952 Patent Act should support infringement liability. The Court also noted that courts should not create liability for inducement of non-infringing conduct where Congress itself has elected not to extend that concept.

Sung Wook Kooh