Supreme Court’s Life Technologies v. Promega Decision

On February 22, 2017, the Supreme Court issued its Life Technologies v. Promega decision (available here). The Patent Act (Section 271(f)(1)) prohibits the supply from the United States of “all or a substantial portion” of the components of a patented invention for combination abroad. The question before the Court was whether a party that supplies a single component of a multicomponent invention for manufacture abroad can be held liable under § 271(f )(1). The Court held that that a single component does not constitute a substantial portion of the components that can give rise to liability under § 271(f )(1).

Notably, the Court did not consider how to identify the “components” of a patent or whether and how that inquiry relates to the elements of a patent claim. In the instant case, the parties agreed that the accused product contained five components and that all but one component was manufactured in the United Kingdom, so the issue did not present itself.

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