(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld a victory for Amazon.com Inc and Amazon-hosted websites against a patent-holding company that sued the websites for infringement after dropping a case against the tech giant.
A federal appeals court ruled in 2020 that PersonalWeb Technologies LLC could not pursue follow-up lawsuits against various Amazon Web Services (AWS) customers, citing patent doctrine dating back to 1907. The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the case. PersonalWeb challenge to failure
The high court asked the US government last year to intervene, saying the justices had some interest in the case. The US Attorney General told the court in April that the case did not merit a higher court review, but disagreed with how the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals applied the doctrine.
The companies and their attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
PersonalWeb dropped a Texas lawsuit against Amazon and AWS customer Dropbox Inc in 2014 after the court’s interpretation of its data storage patents favored the defendants. Sued dozens of other websites powered by AWS as of 2018.
The Federal Circuit said in 2020 that some claims against websites such as Patreon Inc, BuzzFeed Inc, and Vox Media Inc were barred by the 1907 Supreme Court ruling in Kessler v. Eldred. The precedent blocks a patent owner who unsuccessfully sues a manufacturer from suing a customer for infringement on the same product.
The appeals court said the doctrine allows a “declared non-violator” to avoid “repeated harassment by continuing with business as usual.”
PersonalWeb told the justices that the high court had not subpoenaed Kessler in nearly 70 years, saying the Federal Circuit had exceeded its authority by making a “special and specific patent exclusion doctrine.”
The case is PersonalWeb Technologies LLC v. Patreon Inc, US Supreme Court, No. 20-1394.
For PersonalWeb: Jeffrey Lamken of MoloLamken
For Amazon and Websites: David Hadden of Fenwick & West
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