On April 12, 2011, the Federal Circuit rejected McKesson Technologies Inc.'s suit for patent infringement against Epic Systems Corporation. McKesson Technologies Inc. v. Epic Systems. Corp., Case No. 2010-1291 (Fed. Cir. April 12, 2011). The Federal Circuit rejected McKesson's claim for patent infringement because McKesson could not prove that one party (i.e., the Epic customers) performed all of the steps of the method claim recited in the patent.
McKesson's patent is directed to an electronic method of communication between healthcare providers and patients involving personalized web pages for doctors and their patients. Epic is a software company that licenses software to healthcare providers and one of its products was accused of infringement, Epic's MyChart software. Notably, Epic itself does not use the MyChart software and it was undisputed that Epic's customers did not perform one of the steps required by the method claim, i.e., "initiating a communication," nor did the customers exercise control or direction of another who performs this step. Based on this record, the district court granted Epic's motion for summary judgment based on divided infringement in that no one person or entity performed all the steps of the method claim.
The Federal Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court, noting that McKesson had brought its claims against Epic on the theory of inducing infringement and to show inducing infringement McKesson was required to show that one person or entity performed every step of the method claim. The Federal Circuit also rejected any argument regarding joint infringement as it reiterated that this requires a showing of an agency relationship where a party is contractually obligated to perform a specific step of the method.
The Federal Circuit found that "nothing indicates that MyChart users are performing any of the claimed method steps as agents to MyChart providers." The Federal Circuit rejected McKesson's argument that because this case involved the special relationship between a doctor and a patient joint infringement should be found. The Court stated that a "doctor-patient relationship does not by itself give rise to an agency relationship or impose on patients a contractual obligation such that the voluntary actions of patients can be said to represent the vicarious actions of their doctors."
Accordingly, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court's summary judgment of no infringement.
The authors of www.PatentLawyerBlog.com are patent litigation lawyers at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. We represent inventors, patent owners and technology companies in patent licensing and litigation. Whether pursuing patent violations or defending infringement claims, we are aggressive and effective advocates for our clients. For more information contact Stan Gibson at 310.201.3548 or SGibson@jmbm.com.