The Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States have rarely reached consensus on any issues this term. However, they achieved unanimity in two patents cases recently, which may have a significant impact on you and your patent portfolio.
By deciding to hear several patent cases this term, the Court has sent a clear message that it has a continued interest in clarifying the law governing critical patent doctrines. In Limelight Networks v. Akamai Technologies, the Court ruled on matters of induced infringement and in Nautilus v. Biosig Instruments, the primary issue at hand was indefiniteness.
The Limelight decision reduces the scope of protection afforded to patented methods when different steps of those methods are performed by different parties.
The Nautilus decision rejected the Federal Circuit's standard for indefiniteness, namely that a claim is indefinite only when it is “not amenable to construction” or is “insolubly ambiguous," in favor of requiring "that a patent's claims viewed in light of the specification and prosecution history, inform those skilled in the art about the scope of the invention with reasonable certainty.” The Court then remanded the case back to the Federal Circuit to determine whether the claims are sufficiently definite under this new standard.
Our attorneys provide more discussion and insight into how these cases may impact you in this alert.