In a 6-2 decision in Commil USA, LLC v. Cisco Systems, Inc., the Supreme Court ruled that a “good-faith” belief that a patent is invalid is no defense to a claim of induced infringement. A belief in invalidity does not negate the knowledge requirement imposed by 35 U.S.C. § 271(b).
Commil is the owner of a patent claiming a method of providing faster, more reliable communications between base stations and user devices in a Wi-Fi network. Commil brought suit against Cisco, alleging that Cisco induced others to infringe by selling network equipment for others to use. At trial, Cisco sought to introduce evidence that it had a good-faith belief in the invalidity of Commil’s patent. The district court found the evidence inadmissible, although it did not provide an explanation for its finding. The jury found Cisco liable for induced infringement. Cisco appealed the court’s exclusion of its evidence to the Federal Circuit.
The Federal Circuit held that evidence of a good-faith belief in invalidity can negate the intent required for a finding of induced infringement. The Federal Circuit stated that, for purposes of determining intent, there was no distinction between a good-faith belief in invalidity and a good-faith belief in non-infringement.
The Supreme Court vacated the Federal Circuit’s decision, holding that belief in invalidity cannot negate the knowledge requirement of 35 U.S.C. § 271(b). First confirming its holding in Global-Tech, the Supreme Court reiterated that liability for induced infringement attaches only if the defendant both knew of the patent and knew that the induced acts constituted infringement. The Court then clarified that this knowledge requirement concerns infringement and not validity. “The language requires intent to ‘bring about the desired result,’ which is infringement.” Infringement and validity are separate issues and when infringement is at issue, validity “is not the question to be confronted.” Infringement and validity are found in different parts of the Patent Act and have been identified as alternatives in defending against a charge of infringement.
Furthermore, the Court reiterated that there is a statutory presumption that patents are valid. The Court stated that in allowing belief in invalidity to act as a defense to induced infringement “the force of that presumption would be lessened to a drastic degree, for a defendant could prevail if he proved he reasonably believed the patent was invalid. That would circumvent the high bar Congress is presumed to have chosen: the clear and convincing standard.”
The Court concluded that potential defendants may still challenge the validity of patents through USPTO review and reexamination, by filing a declaratory judgment action or by raising an invalidity defense in court.
Authored by Katherine E. Muller
 No. 13-896, 575 U.S. ___, slip op. (2015)
 Id. (quoting 720 F.3d 1361. 1368).
 Id. at 6 (citing Global-Tech Appliances, Inc. v. SEB S.A., 563 U.S. ___, slip op. at 10).
 Id. at 9 (citing Global-Tech, slip op. at 4).