Patent Cases Worth Following in 2015

The Supreme Court will decide some interesting cases this year.  You may want to stay up to date on these stories:

Kimble v. Marvel Enterprises Inc.

For this case, the court will review a 50-year-old rule that royalty agreements cannot extend beyond the expiration of a patent.    The inventor of a Spider-Man toy attempted to collect royalties from Marvel Enterprises Inc. after his patent had expired, but he was denied.  If the Supreme Court overturns this decision and sides with the inventor, this could add a new dimension to licensing talks and agreements, making them potentially more complicated and longer.  It is possible that that some licensees could pay royalties on patents in perpetuity, but with a lower rate.

Commil USA LLC v. Cisco Systems Inc.

In this case, a jury found that Cisco infringed Commil’s wireless networking patent by inducement (a form of secondary liability for patent infringement – in other words, a person or corporation does not commit direct infringement, but asks or induces another to do so, or sells an infringing product).  A Federal Court overturned this damage award, however, on the basis of Cisco’s good faith belief that the patent it allegedly infringed by inducement was invalid.  In other words, the Federal Circuit held that a defendant’s belief in the invalidity of a patent was serve as a defense against induced  patent infringement.  The Supreme Court will review this decision.  If the Supreme Court permits this defense, it will make it harder to prove infringement by inducement in future cases.