Supreme Court Grants Certiorari in Limelight Networks v. Akamai Technologies, (12-786)

The court will decide whether all of the claimed steps of a method patent have to be performed by a single entity to infringe.

On January 10, 2014, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Limelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Technologies, Inc. (12-786), which addressed the issue of divided patent infringement, which has become an increasingly hot topic with regard to the issue of infringement of patent method claims. Previously, in BMC Resources v. Paymentech, the Federal Circuit had established the so called “single entity rule” that required that direct infringement occur, i.e. that a single entity must first be practicing all of the steps of the claimed method, as a prerequisite for a finding of inducing infringement against another entity.

In Limelight, the Federal Circuit in a 6-5 split decision overruled BMC Resources and did away with the single entity rule finding that “a party who performs some of the steps (of a method) itself and induces another to perform the remaining steps that constitute infringement has precisely the same impact on the patentee as a party who induces a single person to carry out all of the steps.”