Supreme Court Mildly Narrows Federal Circuit Standard of Deliberate Indifference In Global-Tech Appliances v. SEB S.A., 563 U.S.____; 98 USPQ2d 1665 (2011), SEB, a French maker of home appliances, filed a lawsuit against Pentalpha for direct infringement and active inducement of another in infringing of U.S. patent 4,995,312. Pentalpha is a wholly owned subsidiary of Global-Tech Appliances, Inc. SEB designed an innovative deep fryer and obtained patent ‘312 in 1991, subsequently SEB commenced production of the fryer under the T-Fal brand in the Untied States. Sunbeam products, a U.S. competitor of SEB, requested Pentalpha Enterprises Ltd. to supply it with deep fryers of specific specification. While developing a fryer for Sunbeam, Pentalpha purchased a SEB fryer, in Hong Kong, which did not bear a patent identifier. Pentalpha copied all but the cosmetic details of the SEB fryer. Pentalpha then retained an attorney to perform a right-to-use study, but failed disclose that the design was copied directly form the SEB fryer.
In Centillion Data Systems v. Qwest Communications International, 631 F.3d 1279; 97 U.S.P.Q.2D 1697 (Fed. Cir. 2011), Centillion is the owner of U.S. Patent No. 5,287,270 (the ‘270 patent”), which is drawn to a system for collecting and processing billing information from a service provider and electronically delivering the billing information from the service provider to a customer in a format usable on a personal computer. As construed by the Federal Circuit, claim 1 recites a system for presenting information comprising “1) storage means for storing transaction records, 2) data processing means for generating summary reports as specified by a user from the transaction records, 3) transferring means for transferring the transaction records and summary reports to a user, and 4) personal computer data processing means adapted to perform additional processing on the transaction records.” Centillion acknowledged that claim features 1) through 3) are performed at a backend at the service provider and claim feature 4) is maintained by a
Federal Circuit Clarifies Standards for Inducement and for Sales in the United States. In SEB S.A. v. Montgomery Ward & Co., 93 USPQ2d 1617 (Fed. Cir. 2010), SEB manufactures and sells cooking products in the United States through a subsidiary T-Fal Corp. SEB owns U.S. Patent No. 4,995,312 (the ‘312 patent), which is directed to a deep fryer that is sold in the U.S. through T-Fal. Pentalpha is a Hong Kong corporation who sold a deep fryer to Sunbeam Products, Inc., which then sold the fryers in the U.S. using the remaining defendants. In developing the fryer, Pentalpha purchased SEB’s fryer in Hong Kong, and copied SEB’s fryer. Pentalpha asserted that the fryer it purchased in Hong Kong was not marked with a patent number. However, the majority of fryers SEB sold in the U.S. were marked with the ‘312 patent. Pentalpha had obtained a right-to-use study from a U.S. attorney for its fryer. This study indicated that the fryer