U.S. Supreme Court rules on Patent Infringement based on Manufacturing Abroad

02.22.17 |

Respondent Promega Corporation sublicensed the Tautz patent, which claims a toolkit for genetic testing, to petitioner Life Technologies Corporation and its subsidiaries (collectively Life Technologies) for the manufacture and sale of the kits for use in certain licensed law enforcement fields worldwide. One of the kit’s five components, an enzyme known as the Taq polymerase, was manufactured by Life Technologies in the United States and then shipped to the United Kingdom, where the four other components were made, for combina- tion there. When Life Technologies began selling the kits outside the licensed fields of use, Promega sued, claiming that patent infringe- ment liability was triggered under §271(f)(1) of the Patent Act, which prohibits the supply from the United States of “all or a substantial portion of the components of a patented invention” for combination abroad. The jury returned a verdict for Promega, but the District Court granted Life Technologies’ motion for judgment as a matter of law, holding that §271(f)(1)’s phrase “all or a substantial portion” did not encompass the supply of a single component of a multicomponent invention. The Federal Circuit reversed. It determined that a single important component could constitute a “substantial portion” of the components of an invention under §271(f)(1) and found the Taq poly- merase to be such a component.

Held: The supply of a single component of a multicomponent invention for manufacture abroad does not give rise to §271(f)(1) liability. 

 

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