United States Supreme CourtWe know that this is a PTAB blog. But sometimes we like to comment on a new Supreme Court opinion in the patent field—even if the issue could only come up in patent infringement litigation and not in a PTAB invalidity proceeding. So bear with us.

On February 22, the Court issued its decision in Life Technologies Corp. v. Promega Corp. The issue was whether a manufacturer of genetic testing toolkits could be liable for infringement where only one of the five key components—albeit an important one—was manufactured in the United States. The Court construed section 271 (f)(1) of the Patent Act, which prohibits the supply from the United States of “all or a substantial portion of the components of a patented invention” for combination abroad. Resorting to classic tools of statutory construction, the Court said that the section of the law required a quantitative analysis—and “all or a substantial portion” could never be merely one component in  a multi-component accused product.

Note that another section of the Patent Act—271(f)(2)—would allow an infringement suit where only one component was manufactured in the United States, but only where that single component is “especially made or especially adapted for use in the invention and is not a staple article or commodity.”

Now back to PTAB blogging!