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A Federal Circuit decision in late August has given patent trolls a new, potentially devastating weapon to extract license fees, This weapon that will likely be aimed squarely at companies with a heavy Internet and software-technology focus. In the cases Akamai Tech. v. Limelight Networks and Mckesson Tech. v. Epic Systems, the court ruled en banc that a single party no longer needs to practice all steps of a patented method claim in order to be found liable for indirect infringement. The 6-5 decision narrowly overturned the previous rule, known as the “Joint Infringement Defense,” in the context of indirect infringement based on inducement. As the per curiam opinion put it: “To be clear, we hold that all the steps of a claimed method must be performed in order to find induced infringement, but that it is not necessary to prove that all the steps were committed by a single entity.”

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