A blog about patent, copyright and trademark law in the U.S. District Court
for the Southern District of New York

Court Denies Motion to Dismiss Patent Infringement Complaint, Citing Relaxed Pleading Standard

In a November 8, 2013 ruling, Judge Richard J. Sullivan declined to dismiss plaintiff Joao Control & Monitoring Systems, LLC's third amended patent infringement complaint against Digital Playground, Inc. and others.  First, the Court denied the defendants' motion to dismiss the direct infringement claim.  In doing so, Judge Sullivan wrote:
Direct infringement claims operate under a unique legal standard.  The Federal Circuit has held that any direct infringement claim mirroring Form 18 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is sufficient to state a claim.  This is so even if the pleadings would otherwise not satisfy the plausibility-pleading standard that applies to all other claims.
(citation omitted)  The Court also applied the relaxed pleading standard to the allegations against all "Defendants" generally, noting that there is "no reason not to interpret every allegation that 'Defendants' did something as a stand in for an allegation that 'Defendant A, Defendant B, . .  .and Defendant Z' each did something."

Second, the Court upheld the allegations of willfulness against defendant Digital Playground because the third amended complaint alleges that it had knowledge of one of the patents-in-suit before the filing of the complaint in this action, but continued the infringement despite that knowledge.  Judge Sullivan dismissed the willfulness contentions against all the other defendants, however, finding the allegation that "Defendants" as a group had knowledge of the patent to be "entirely conclusory."

Third, the Court dismissed the induced infringement claim -- which is subject to normal pleading standards -- against all of the defendants except Digital Playground.  The Court found that Joao Control failed adequately to allege intent, except as to Digital Playground, which is alleged to have acted deliberately and with knowledge of the patents-in-suit.

Fourth, Judge Sullivan denied the defendants' motion for a more definite statement to specify which of the claims in the patents-in-suit were infringed.  The Court rejected the motion, ruling that "[n]either Form 18 nor any other rule, however, requires a complaint to specify which claims are allegedly infringed."
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