Under the “single entity” rule, a patented method is infringed only if one entity performs all the steps of the patented method, or controls, or directs others to perform them. Therefore, if an accused system is not operated by a single entity, but by more than two independent entities, interactive technology patents cannot be directly infringed or infringed under the inducement law. Before Akamai Technologies, Inc. v. Limelight Networks, Inc. (Akamai VI), an interactive technology patent was infringed by multiple actors only if one actor controlled or directed the other actors to perform the claimed steps collectively. But, under Akamai VI, “liability under [35 U.S.C.A.] § 271(a) can also be found when an alleged infringer conditions participation in an activity or receipt of a benefit upon performance of a step or steps of a patented method and establishes the manner or timing of that performance.” Akamai VI saves interactive technology patents to the extent that an infringer cannot avoid direct infringement by simply setting one or more steps for others to perform.
Albany Law Journal of Science and Technology, Vol.27, No.1, pp.33-61