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What Constitutes “Use” Under 35 U.S.C. 271(a)?

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This was the question before Magistrate Judge Thynge in Inline’s Motion for Summary Judgment that the defendants’ conduct is an infringing “use” as defined by the statute. , C.A. Nos. 02-272, 02-477, Memo. Order (D. Del. Feb. 1, 2007) (Thynge, M.J.). The defendants argued that because they do not provide all the components of the claimed system they do not “use” the invention and therefore cannot infringe the patent-at-issue. The Court found that use only requires that the infringer: excercise control over the system and obtain beneficial use of the system. Id. at 2. Here the defendants provide hardware, instructions and customer support which constitute use under the statute. Id. at 4. “The fact that they do not own all the component parts of the system does not matter.” Id. Therefore, to directly infringe a claim for a system, a party does not need to directly use each component of that system.

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