Today, Tuesday, June 25, 2013, in Commil USA v. Cisco Systems, No. 2012-1042, the Federal Circuit (Newman (concur/dissent), Prost, and O’Malley (concur/dissent)) reversed a finding of induced infringement where the jury instruction erroneously used a negligence standard and the district court erroneously excluded rebuttal evidence of the accused infringer’s good faith belief that the patent was invalid. This case provides incremental insight into the intent requirement for induced infringement.
The jury was instructed to find inducement if “Cisco actually intended to cause the acts that constitute direct infringement and that Cisco knew or should have known that its actions would induce actual infringement.” The Court held that this instruction erroneously applied a negligence standard for induced infringement, in violation of the Supreme Court’s requirement in Global-Tech v. SEB that the plaintiff show that the defendant have “actual knowledge or willful blindness” that the induced acts constitute patent infringement.
The Majority also held that the district court erred by excluding evidence of the accused infringer’s good faith belief that the patent was invalid to rebut a charge of induced infringement. The Majority held that such evidence—while not dispositive—“should be considered by the fact-finder in determining whether an accused party knew ‘that the induced acts constitute patent infringement.’” The Majority explained that such an approach is consistent with precedent holding that a good faith belief of non-infringement is relevant evidence that should be considered by the fact-finder.
Judge Newman dissented on the latter point, indicating that only a good faith belief of non-infringement — not any belief regarding validity — is relevant to the issue of induced infringement.
An annotated copy of the case is at this link: Commil v. Cisco.