Life Technologies Corp. v. Promega Corp.

While it is illegal to supply from the United States “all or a substantial portion” of the components of a patented invention for assembly or combination abroad, the export of a single component of the patented invention cannot constitute a “substantial portion” of the components and so cannot violate the statute; “substantial” is a quantitative test, not a qualitative one.  Under 35 USC 271(f)(1), it is illegal to supply from the United States “all or a substantial portion” of the components of a patented invention for assembly or combination abroad.  This decision holds that export of a single component of the patented invention cannot constitute a “substantial portion” of the components and so cannot violate the statute.  The context makes it clear that “substantial” here sets a quantitative, not a qualitative, test.  So a single component, no matter how important to the invention cannot alone be a quantitatively substantial portion of the invention’s components.  Section 271(f)(2) addresses the qualitative importance idea, banning export of a component specially made for the invention, but not normal commodities.

United States Supreme Court (Sotomayor, J.; Alito & Thomas, JJ., concurring); February 22, 2017; 2017 WL 685531

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