Intellectual Property Strategist
"No Direct Infringement Unless A 'Single Entity' Performs Each and Every Method Step: Akamai Technologies, Inc. v. Limelight Networks, Inc."
In Akamai Technologies, the Federal Circuit ruled that there was no direct infringement of a method patent claim where defendant Limelight performed all but one step of the patented method and assisted its contractually bound customers with performing the remaining step. Akamai Techs., Inc. v. Limelight Networks, Inc., No. 2009-1372 (Fed. Cir. May 13, 2015). The court ruled that there is no direct infringement unless a "single entity" performs each and every step of the claimed method. Therefore, it found no direct infringement because Limelight and its customers were not part of a single entity and the customers were performing the missing step for their own benefit, not Limelight's. The U.S. Supreme Court had already ruled that Limelight could not be an infringement inducer until there was an identified direct infringer. Limelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Techs., Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2111 (2014). The Federal Circuit had previously ruled that Limelight was an infringement inducer and had not reached the issue of direct infringement. See, Akamai Techns. v. Limelight Networks, Inc., 629 F.3d 1311 (Fed. Cir. 2010). Accordingly, while Limelight profited from the divided performance of the patented method and its customers obtained the benefits of Akamai's patent, no party was liable for direct or indirect patent infringement. The majority blamed this so-called "gaping hole" on improper claim drafting. Akamai Techs., No. 2009-1372 at 16 (Linn, J., majority). The dissent called for en banc review. Akamai Techs., No. 2009-1372 at 1 (Moore, J., dissent.).