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Commil USA, LLC v. Cisco Sys.

Supreme Court of the United States

March 31, 2015, Argued; May 26, 2015, Decided

No. 13-896

Opinion

 [****1579]  Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion of the Court. 1

A patent holder, and the holder’s lawful licensees, can recover for monetary  [*1924]  injury when their exclusive rights are violated by others’ wrongful conduct. One form of patent injury occurs if unauthorized persons or entities copy, use, or otherwise infringe upon the patented invention. Another form of injury to the patent holder or his licensees can occur when the actor induces others to infringe the patent. In the instant case, both forms of in-jury—direct infringement and wrongful inducement of others to commit infringement—were alleged. After two trials, the defendant was found liable for both types of injury. The dispute now before the Court concerns the inducement aspect of the case.

The patent holder who commenced this action is the petitioner here, Commil USA, LLC. The technical details of Commil’s patent are not at issue. So it suffices to say, with much oversimplification, that the patent is for a method of implementing short-range wireless networks. Suppose an  [**889]  extensive [***6]  business headquarters or a resort or a college campus wants a single, central wireless system (sometimes called a Wi-Fi network). In order to cover the large space, the system needs multiple base stations so a user can move around the area and still stay connected. Commil’s patent relates to a method of providing faster and more reliable communications between devices and base stations. The particular claims of Commil’s patent are discussed in the opinion of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. 720 F. 3d 1361, 1364-1365, 1372 (2013).

Commil brought this action against Cisco Systems, Inc., which makes and sells wireless networking equipment. In 2007, Commil sued Cisco in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Cisco is the respondent here. Commil alleged that Cisco had infringed Commil’s patent by making and using networking equipment. In addition Commil alleged that Cisco had induced others to infringe the patent by selling the infringing equipment for them to use, in contravention of Commil’s exclusive patent rights.

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135 S. Ct. 1920 *; 191 L. Ed. 2d 883 **; 2015 U.S. LEXIS 3406 ***; 114 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1577 ****; 575 U.S. 632; 83 U.S.L.W. 4331; 25 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 277

COMMIL USA, LLC, Petitioner v. CISCO SYSTEMS, INC.

Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.

Prior History:  [***1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FEDERAL CIRCUIT

Commil USA, LLC v. Cisco Sys., 720 F.3d 1361, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 12943 (Fed. Cir., 2013)

Disposition: 720 F. 3d 1361, vacated and remanded.

CORE TERMS

infringement, patent, induced, invalidity, good-faith, patent infringement, contributory, district court, fryer, invention, noninfringement, negate, rights

Business & Corporate Compliance, Infringement Actions, Infringing Acts, Indirect Infringement, Patent Law, General Overview, Use, Intent & Knowledge, Defenses, Patent Invalidity, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Clear & Convincing Proof, Presumption of Validity, Inferences & Presumptions, Presumptions, Rebuttal of Presumptions, Burdens of Proof, Criminal Law & Procedure, Ignorance & Mistake of Law, Torts, Contracts, Intentional Interference, Defenses, Trespass to Real Property