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High Court Appears Split On 'Good Faith' Patent Defense

March 31, 2015

Fenwick patent litigation partner David Tellekson spoke with Law360 about the Supreme Court of the United States’ hearing in Commil USA LLC v. Cisco Systems Inc. The issue before SCOTUS is whether to uphold a Federal Circuit court’s ruling that a good faith belief that a patent is invalid can be a valid defense to induced infringement. 

In June 2013 the Federal Circuit overturned a $74 million verdict against Cisco over Wi-Fi patents. According to Law360, several Supreme Court justices compared the new defense created by the ruling with the Supreme Court’s 2011 ruling in Global-Tech Appliances v. SEB, wherein the justices held that a good faith belief that a patent is not infringed can be the basis for a defense to induced infringement

The current case will be decided by only eight justices, as Justice Stephen Breyer has recused himself. In the event of a 4-4, split, the Federal Circuit's ruling would prevail.

After the hearing, Tellekson told Law360 that based on the justices’ observation of inducement as being similar to aiding and abetting, there "appeared to provide some cause for optimism" for proponents of the Federal Court’s decision. 

"One thing seemed clear: that the court was not going to retreat from or reinterpret its decision in Global-Tech,” he said. “Both the petitioner and the government were met with strong resistance to their 'interpretation' of Global-Tech, which seemed to differ from that of the court.”

The full article is available through the Law360 website (subscription required).