The district court granted a motion to dismiss Mankes’ complaint on the grounds that he could not establish direct infringement under the law of “joint infringement” as it existed in early 2015, prior to the Federal Circuit’s decision in Akamai Technologies, Inc. v. Limelight Networks, Inc., 797 F.3d 1020 (Fed. Cir. 2015) (en banc), in which the court found infringement by broadening the circumstances in which others’ acts may be attributed to an accused infringer to support direct infringement liability for divided infringement and relaxing the tighter constraints on such attribution reflected in earlier precedents and in the three previous rulings for Limelight on direct infringement.

In light of the holding of Akamai, the court vacated the district court’s judgment and remanded for further proceedings in light of the new articulation of divided-infringement standards.  The court further affirmed the district court’s denial of Vivid Seats’ motion for attorney’s fees on two grounds.  First, by vacating and remanding the original judgment, Vivid Seats was no longer the prevailing party.  Second, even if Vivid Seats was the prevailing party, Mankes’ case was not exceptional and therefore did not warrant an award of attorney’s fees. 

Robert Mankes v. Vivid Seats Ltd., Case Nos. 2015-1500, -1501 (April 22, 2016); Opinion by: Taranto, joined by Schall and Chen; Appealed From: United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Flanagan, J. Read the full opinion here.

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