Federal Circuit limits ITC authority to remedy patent infringement claims based on induced infringement

In a groundbreaking decision, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently held that a limited exclusion order under section 337 may not be predicated on a theory of induced infringement when the subject imported product did not directly infringe before or at importation.

The case involves certain method patent claims relating to particular implementations of fingerprint image capture and processing. In the underlying investigation, Cross Match Technologies alleged that Suprema (a South Korean company that manufactures and imports hardware and software for scanning fingerprints) and Mentalix (a domestic importer of Suprema scanners) violated section 337 by importing articles that infringe certain Cross Match patents. Cross Match alleged that the method claims at issue were infringed when Suprema’s scanners are used in combination with Mentalix’s scanners.

The commission held that Mentalix directly infringed a Cross Match patent method claim by using its own software with imported Suprema scanners and that Suprema had induced the direct infringement by Mentalix. The commission accordingly issued a limited exclusion order directed to certain scanning devices imported ‘by or on behalf of Suprema or Mentalix’ and issued a cease-and-desist order directed to Mentalix…

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