John Duffy

Argument Analysis: The Word “Substantial” May Mean “A Whole Lot”

PUBLISHER
SCOTUSblog
DATE
2016-12-7
 

Abstract

The argument in Life Technologies v. Promega seemed to go well for the petitioners, Life Technologies, who argued that the statutory phrase “all or a substantial portion of the components of a patented invention” cannot refer to a single component of an invention, especially if that one component is merely a common commodity that has several non-infringing uses. Many of the justices’ questions seemed to be directed towards deciding not whether, but how, the decision below should be reversed.

The case involves a statute imposing patent infringement liability on U.S. companies that export “all or a substantial portion of the components of a patented invention” so as to actively induce a combination of components overseas that would infringe the patent if that combination occurred in this country. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that supplying a single important component of a patented invention is sufficient to trigger liability under the statute; under that reading of the statute, the court held Life Technologies to be infringers of Promega’s patent. Life Technologies has asked the Supreme Court to overturn that ruling; the federal government, appearing as a “friend of the court,” also supports reversal.

 

Citation

John F. Duffy, Argument Analysis: The Word “Substantial” May Mean “A Whole Lot”, SCOTUSblog (December 7, 2016).
 

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