- Andrew McCarthy, National Review Institute
On February 22, 2017, the Supreme Court decided Life Technologies Corp. v. Promega Corp. Promega Corporation owned four patents for technology used in kits that can conduct genetic testing and was the exclusive licensee of a fifth patent. In 2010, Promega sued Life Technologies Corporation (LifeTech) for allegedly infringing on these patents. A jury found in favor of Promega but the district court nevertheless ruled for LifeTech, concluding that Promega had failed to present evidence sufficient to sustain the favorable jury verdict. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed that judgment, holding that the four Promega patents were ultimately invalid but agreeing that LifeTech had infringed the fifth patent and remanding to the district court for a determination of damages. In the course of its ruling, the Federal Circuit concluded that LifeTech’s supplying of a single, commodity component of a mulit-component invention had exposed LifeTech under federal law to damages liability on worldwide sales.
The question before the Supreme Court was whether the Federal Circuit erred in holding that supplying a single, commodity component of a multi-component invention from the United States exposes a manufacturer to liability for worldwide sales.
By a vote of 7-0, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Federal Circuit and remanded the case. In an opinion by Justice Sotomayor, the Court held that the supply of a single component of a multicomponent invention for manufacture abroad does not give rise to liability under Section 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. Justice Sotomayor’s opinion was joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan. Justices Thomas and Alito joined the majority opinion as to all but Part II-C. Justice Alito filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which Justice Thomas joined. Chief Justice Roberts was recused.
To discuss the case, we have Howard J. Klein who is Attorney at Law at Klein, O’Neill & Singh, LLP.