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Digest of the Week – Inducing Patent Infringement

Digest of the Week – Inducing Patent Infringement

Providing advice, instructions, and training will not necessarily amount to inducing patent infringement

Uponor AB v. Heatlink Group Inc.
2016 CarswellNat 873
Federal Court

Intellectual property --- Patents — Actions for infringement — When infringement arises — Persons liable

Plaintiff owned patent relating to uniform, fast and contactless method of crosslinking polymers using infrared (IR) radiation — Defendant Canadian companies P Inc. and H Inc. respectively manufactured and sold crosslinked polyethylene [PEX] pipes, while defendant Finnish company supplied, operated, imported, serviced and provided support for IR ovens used by P Inc. — Plaintiff brought action against defendants for infringement of patent; defendants counterclaimed to challenge validity of patent — Action allowed as against P Inc. and H Inc.; counter-claim allowed in part — Most of patent's claims were invalid either for lack of utility or obviousness, but certain process and apparatus claims were valid and at issue for infringement — These claims related to vertical extrusion through IR zones — Evidence on infringement of plaintiff's expert P was largely accepted — Video footage of P Inc.'s manufacturing process showed pipe being rotated from starting horizontal position to travel vertically through IR crosslinking zones — Defendant P Inc.'s manufacturing process and apparatus infringed claims of patent — H Inc. sold and distributed pipe manufactured by P Inc.'s infringing process and so it was liable for infringement — There was no evidence of direct infringement by Finnish company that sold IR ovens to P Inc. but plaintiff alleged it induced P Inc.'s infringement by providing continuing advice, instructions and trainings to P Inc. to achieve manufacture of infringing pipe — Evidence was not sufficient to prove that direct infringement by P Inc. would not have taken palce without influence of Finnish company — Partial responsibility was not enough — Invention had various components, as it involved use of correct polymer and peroxide, extrusion, application of nitrogen and irradiation with IR — Only portion of invention in which Finnish company provided instruction was crosslinking pipe once it was extruded — There were too many variables to successful execution of patented process to find that, without influence of Finnish company, P Inc. would not have infringed patent.
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