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In contrast to § 271(g), the act that gives rise to liability under § 271(a) occurs when a party makes, uses, sells, or offers to sell the patented invention, meaning the entire patented invention. Under this precedent, direct infringement under § 271(a) of a process patent occurs only when a single party practices every step of the claimed process. 35 U.S.C.S. § 271(a). However, liability under § 271(g) is not predicated on practicing the claimed process, but rather on importing, offering for sale, selling, or using a product. 35 U.S.C.S. § 271(g). Thus, the single-entity requirement, which is necessary for direct infringement liability under § 271(a), has no application to acts that do not constitute infringement under § 271(g).
Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC sued Willowood, LLC, Willowood USA, LLC, Willowood Azoxystrobin, LLC, and Willowood Limited in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina for copyright infringement and patent infringement, asserting four patents directed to a fungicide compound and its manufacturing processes. Prior to trial, the district court dismissed the copyright infringement claims, determining them to be precluded by the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. The district court granted-in-part and denied-in-part Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC's summary judgment motion with respect to patent infringement. The district court also denied-in-part the defendants' motion to exclude expert testimony on damages. After a jury trial, the district court entered judgment in favor of Willowood Limited on all patent infringement claims; in favor of all defendants on infringement of one patent at issue; and against Willowood, LLC, and Willowood USA, LLC, on infringement of the remaining three patents. The district court denied Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC's motions for judgment as a matter of law. Syngenta appealed the district court's dismissal of its copyright claims, the district court's conclusion that required every step of a claimed process to be performed by or attributable to a single entity, the jury's verdict that Willowood did not infringe the ‘138 patent even with the single entity requirement imposed on § 271(g), and the district court's judgment that Willowood China did not infringe any of the asserted patents.
1) Did the district court err in dismissing Syngenta’s copyright claims?
2) Did the district court err by imposing a single-entity requirement under § 271(g)?
The district court did not provide an adequate analysis of the potential conflict between the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Copyright Act for the appellate court to determine whether such a conflict truly existed here. Remand was necessary for analysis of merits of copyright claim and whether use of any portion of label was prohibited by Copyright Act. Moreover, the court held that the district court erred by imposing a single-entity requirement on the performance of a patented process under 35 U.S.C.S. § 271(g) because infringement liability under § 271(g) was distinct from liability under § 271(a). Infringement under § 271(g) was not predicated on a single entity practicing a patented process abroad.