The rise of giant patent holding companies (trolls) have almost killed off the original intent of the patent system: to protect the inventor and allow them to profit from their hard work without someone copying them. Now patents are filed not to protect ideas and inventions, but as ammunition for later lawsuits when the competition gets too far ahead or starts to threaten market position.
The patent suits have even gotten so ridiculous as to claim that end user actions can be used as the basis for an infringement suit. This was the case with Akami and Limelight. Akami claimed that Limelight partially infringed on their patent. The claim stated that Limelight sent data over a private network and then told their end users details on how to get that data.
Now a Federal Circuit Court ruled that Limelight had in fact infringed and that the end users had also infringed (which as odd). The lower court appeared to feel that Congress wanted Limelight to be found liable for infringement (another odd thing). The Federal Circuit Court did not really follow the letter (or color) of the law with this line of reasoning, but appeared to want to create an opening based on perceived guilt and not reality.
The Supreme Court weighed in and found that this was not only unacceptable, but dangerous in its potential for even more outlandish patent law suits. They overturned the Federal Courts ruling noting that Limelight could not be held liable for indirect infringement if there was no direct infringement. This finding removes the potential for pushing indirect liability to consumers that might not even be aware that they were infringing on someone’s patents.