On October 12, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to Global-Tech Appliances, Inc. and Pentalpha Enterprises, Ltd. (Docket No. 10-6; July 29, 2010) to consider what state of mind must be shown by a patentee, under 35 U.S.C. §271(b), to establish that a defendant induced infringement of a patent. That section simply states: “Whoever actively induces infringement of a patent shall be liable as an infringer.” 35 U.S.C. §271(b).
The Supreme Court’s answer may have significant economic consequences, especially for foreign companies importing goods into the United States, because the statutory provision addresses indirect, rather than direct liability. Actions taken exclusively abroad could create liability for such companies, who must now contemplate the costs of complying with the to-be-announced Supreme Court standard. The standard will also affect whether officers and directors of a corporation would be held personally liable for indirect infringement. Such additional costs will undoubtedly be passed on to consumers and, given the scale of foreign trade in the U.S., these costs may have a large impact on the economy as a whole. [More]