Good Faith Belief in Invalidity of Patent is Not a Defense to Inducement to Infringe Claim: Commil USA, LLC v. Cisco Systems, Inc.

Date: May 13, 2015

The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Commil USA LLC v. Cisco Systems Inc. overturned Federal Circuit precedent allowing defendants to avoid liability for inducing third parties to infringe a patent based on a good-faith belief that the asserted patent is invalid. Noting that infringement and validity are separate issues, the Supreme Court held:

Under the Patent Act…a patent is ‘presumed valid.’ That presumption takes away any need for a plaintiff to prove his patent is valid to bring a claim. If a belief in invalidity were a defense to induced infringement, the force of that presumption would be lessened to a drastic degree, for a defendant could prevail if he proved he reasonably believed that patent was invalid.

The defining issue came down to Section 271(b) of the Patent Act, which states that parties may be held liable for actively inducing the infringement of a patent. There is a knowledge requirement within the section that holds an infringer must have the requisite intent to cause infringement, for which the Court made the distinction that "invalidity is not a defense to infringement, it is a defense to liability."  Accordingly, accused infringers under 271(b) may no longer rely on a good faith belief of patent invalidity in order to avoid liability.   

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