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 Inequitable Conduct Counterclaim and to Strike Affirmative Defenses

In a March 6, 2014 ruling, Judge Denise Cote denied plaintiff Keystone Global LLC’s motion to dismiss defendants’ counterclaim of inequitable conduct and certain patent-related affirmative defenses. The inequitable conduct counterclaim was based on the defendant’s assertion that it had invented the claimed invention more than a year before the plaintiff applied for the patents-in-suit, that the plaintiff bought one of the defendant’s devices using a pseudonym, and that the plaintiff failed to disclose the defendant’s device or its purchase of the plaintiff’s product during prosecution of the patents-in-suit. In considering the motion to dismiss the counterclaim, Judge Cote applied the Iqbal/Twombly plausibility standard, and further noted that the “Federal Circuit has . . . required a party alleging inequitable conduct on the basis that an applicant failed to disclose prior art to ‘identify the specific prior art that was allegedly know to the applicant and not disclosed.’” Since the counterclaim identified “the piece of prior art the applicants are alleged to have failed to disclose to the PTO and, in alleging that one of the applicants purchased the prior art using a pseudonym, suggests that the failure to disclose was willful,” the Court found the allegations sufficient, and denied the motion to dismiss.

As to the motion to strike, Judge Cote wrote that such motions are “‘not favored and will not be granted unless it appears to a certainty that plaintiffs would succeed despite any state of the facts which could be proved in support of the defense.’” The Court ruled that the defendant’s “affirmative defenses, while not artfully pled, raise core issues in the patent litigation,’” and denied the motion.
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