Supreme Court Reverses Federal Circuit on the Limits of Extraterritorial Infringement

February 24, 2017

The US Supreme Court has overruled the Federal Circuit on the issue of extraterritorial infringement through products with multiple components. Under 35 USC Section 271(f)(1), a company is liable for patent infringement for exporting “all or a substantial portion of the components of a patented invention” if the components are assembled abroad and if that combination would infringe within the United States. In Life Technologies v. Promega, the Federal Circuit held that a “single important component could constitute a ‘substantial portion’ of an invention” under that section of the statute (2013-1011, 2013-1029, 2013-1376). The Supreme Court reversed in a February 22 opinion authored by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, ruling that a “‘substantial portion’ . . . refers to a quantitative measurement” under which a single component cannot trigger Section 271(f)(1) liability (2014-1538).

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