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

Court Upholds Sufficiency of Patent Infringement Complaint Under Iqbal

In a March 16, 2016 ruling, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin denied the defendant's motion to dismiss a complaint alleging willful direct, induced and contributory infringement. Applying the Iqbal standard for all three types of infringement, Judge Scheindlin found the allegations of direct infringement adequate, writing:
Allegations that plead that “a specific product [] allegedly infringes [the] patent by virtue of certain specific characteristics” meet the Iqbal plausibility standard. A plaintiff is not required to list which of the claims in the patent have been infringed in its pleading; as the Federal Circuit has recently reiterated, “a plaintiff need not even identify which claims are being infringed.”
With regard to the induced infringement claim, the Court found:
The Complaint also contains details regarding the printed instructional material and website instructions provided by [the defendant] instructing its customers as to how to use the [accused system] in a manner that allegedly directly violates the ‘641 Patent. This level of detail is sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss.
Judge Scheindlin also upheld the pleading of the contributory infringement claim, noting:
As explained above, [the plaintiff] has sufficiently pled direct infringement and that [the defendant} was aware of the ‘641 Patent. [The plaintiff] also alleges that the [accused system] and its various components have no substantial noninfringing use. While [the defendant] argues that [the plaintiff's] general allegation to that effect is insufficiently particular to satisfy Iqbal, “numerous post-Iqbal cases have not required detailed factual allegations in support of a plaintiff’s claim that a defendant’s product lacks substantial noninfringing uses.”
The Court did, however, find the claim for willful infringement to be inadequately pled, ruling:
The facts pled here offer a plausible risk that [the defendant] was infringing the ‘641 Patent by selling the [accused system] — and this is why [the plaintiff's] other claims survive [the defendant's] motion to dismiss. But these allegations do not rise to the much higher level of objectively reckless risk of infringement. Without additional facts to support a conclusion that the risk of infringement was highly likely, [the plaintiff] has failed to meet its burden.
Judge Scheindlin did all the plaintiff to file an amended complaint bolstering the willful infringement facts, if possible.
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