Commil USA, LLC v. Cisco Systems, Inc., __ F.3d __ (Fed. Cir. 2015)
On remand from the Supreme Court, the Federal Circuit has again concluded that the jury’s infringement verdict was wrong – but this time altering the grounds for its decision. “We now conclude that substantial evidence does not support the jury’s finding that Cisco’s devices, when used, perform the ‘running‘ step of the asserted claims. The district court’s judgment is therefore reversed.”
In its 2015 decision in the case, the Supreme Court had rejected the prior Chief Judge Prost non-infringement opinion. Under the Supreme Court analysis, the good-faith (but wrongly held) belief that a patent is invalid does not excuse a defendant’s actions to actively induce another party to infringe the patent.
Rather than re-focusing on the legal intricacies of inducement, this time the appellate panel shifted focus to the defendant’s alternative argument — that there was no underlying infringement. Here, the patent is directed to a wireless communication system with at least two Base Stations that run a “low level” protocol for each connection, but according to the appellate panel, the patentee failed to prove that Cisco (or its customers) used their base stations in that manner. Instead, Cisco’s testimony was that its Base Stations operate a single protocol instance that is used for all connections.
The most interesting element of this decision is that it could have been written back in 2014 when the panel wrote its original decision and the Federal Circuit could have avoided the questionable legal grounds that were later rejected.