US Supreme Court declines review of patent case involving whether defendant must perform all steps of claimed business method

On March 9, 2009 the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for certiorari relating to the Federal Circuit’s opinion in MuniAuction, Inc. v. Thompson Corporation

In the Federal Circuit case, the court found that Thompson did not infringe MuniAuction’s claims for a method of performing an online auction.  The court stated that the claims included steps that are performed by a user of the online system — i.e., a bidder.    Citing BMC Resources, Inc. v. Paymentech, L.P., the Federal Circuit stated that:

where the actions of multiple parties combine to perform every step of a claimed method, the claim is directly infringed only if one party exercises “control or direction” over the entire process such that every step is attributable to the controlling party.

The Federal Circuit found that the defendant (Thompson) neither performed all of the steps nor had another party perform steps on its behalf.  Thus, the Federal Circuit held that Thompson did not directly infringe the patent. 

In its petition for certiorari, MuniAuction sought to have the Supreme Court review the application of Paymentech’s “direction” and “control” requirements to the case at hand.

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