Supreme Court: Willful Blindness = Knowledge

Yesterday, the Supreme Court affirmed the Federal Circuit’s decision in Global-Tech, Inc. v. SEB, S.A.  The Federal Circuit held that the infringer was liable for inducing infringement of a patent of which it had no direct knowledge based on its “deliberate indifference” of a known risk.  The infringer deliberately withheld information from its patent attorney when the attorney was performing a freedom-to-operate search.

The Supreme Court upheld the knowledge requirement for proving inducement under § 271(b) and held that “deliberate indifference to a known risk that a patent exists” is not sufficient to meet the knowledge requirement.  In its 8-1 decision, the Court affirmed the decision based on the theory of “willful blindness.”

The Court, with assistance from amici, took the concept of willful blindness from the criminal law context.  The doctrine of “willful blindness” includes two requirements:

(1) the defendant must subjectively believe that there is a high probability that a fact exists and (2) the defendant must take deliberate actions to avoid learning of that fact. 

Willful blindness is a higher standard than recklessness or negligence.  It is more than than knowledge of a substantial risk; it requires active efforts to avoid knowledge of the potentially infringing nature of the defendant’s activities.

Justice Kennedy, in dissent, argued that the Court should not expand § 271(b) to permit liability for willful blindness, but should require that actual knowledge of the patent by the infringer.

About these ads

5 Responses to “Supreme Court: Willful Blindness = Knowledge”

  1. General Global Week in Review 13 June 2011 from IP Think Tank Says:

    [...] but not ‘deliberate indifference’ standard: Global-Tech v. SEB (Patently-O) (ArsTechnica) (Inventive Step) (271 Patent Blog) (IPBiz) (Orange Book Blog) (Patent Docs) (IP Law Blog) (Ladas & Parry) [...]

  2. IP Down Under » General Global Week in Review 13 June 2011 from IP Think Tank Says:

    [...] but not ‘deliberate indifference’ standard: Global-Tech v. SEB (Patently-O) (ArsTechnica) (Inventive Step) (271 Patent Blog) (IPBiz) (Orange Book Blog) (Patent Docs) (IP Law Blog) (Ladas & Parry) [...]

  3. China Update 18 June 2011 from IP Think Tank / 中国知识产权动向,2011年6月18日 来自IP Think Tank Says:

    [...] (Patently-O) (ArsTechnica) (Inventive Step) (271 Patent Blog) (IPBiz) (Orange Book Blog) (Patent Docs) (IP Law Blog) (Ladas & Parry) [...]

  4. IP Down Under » China Update 18 June 2011 from IP Think Tank / 中国知识产权动向,2011年6月18日 来自IP Think Tank Says:

    [...] (Patently-O) (ArsTechnica) (Inventive Step) (271 Patent Blog) (IPBiz) (Orange Book Blog) (Patent Docs) (IP Law Blog) (Ladas & Parry) [...]

  5. Supreme Court to Hear More Patent Cases in October 2011 Term « INVENTIVE STEP Says:

    [...] or so.  During the 2009 term, the Court decided Bilski.  During the 2010 term, the Court decided Global-Tech where it ruled that willful blindness=knowledge for induced infringement, and i4i where it ruled [...]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 59 other followers

%d bloggers like this: