The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear two patent cases during its upcoming term.
One case involves a dispute between Limelight Networks Inc. and Akamai Technologies and concerns a patent for delivering internet content.
Akamai’s patented method redirects Internet content when demand is high. The company claims that Limelight takes all but one step described in the patent and induces Limelight customers to take the final step.
The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which focuses on patent cases, held in 2012 that Limelight could be sued for inducing patent infringement.
The Federal Circuit overruled earlier cases holding that induced infringement required proof that one entity performed all the steps that constituted infringement.
Google, Cisco, and Oracle are among the companies and organizations backing Limelight, on the basis that products like smartphones “can be used in an almost infinite combination of ways by other companies and consumers.”
The US Solicitor General encouraged the Supreme Court to take the case, “to avert a significant expansion of the scope of inducement liability (and a corresponding increase in burdensome litigation).”
The other case is Nautilus Inc. v. Biosig Instruments Inc. and involves U.S. Patent No. 5,337,753 for a heart-rate monitor.
Nautilus challenged what it called the Federal Circuit’s “overly permissive” standard for determining whether a patent is invalid as indefinite.
Holding that a patent is not indefinite if it is not “insolubly ambiguous,” the Federal Circuit reversed a lower court ruling that Biosig’s heart rate monitor patent was indefinite.
In urging the Supreme Court to take the case, Nautilus contended that the Federal Circuit’s ruling invited inventors to obfuscate their inventions, leading courts to spend undue time attempting to make sense of unclear patent claims.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed an amicus brief in support of Nautilus, saying that vague patent claims are a “favorite tool of patent trolls” and that “a more sensible rule would help reduce abusive litigation.”