Newt LLC v. Nestle USA, Inc., No. 09 C 4792, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 28, 2011) (Coleman, J.)
Judge Coleman denied defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, but dismissed the false patent marking case pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to sufficiently plead intent to deceive. The Court held that plaintiff Newt had standing to sue without proof of particularized injury, citing Stauffer v. Brooks Bros., Inc., 619 F. 3d 1321, 1327 (Fed. Cir. 2010).
Newt alleged that defendant Graphic Packaging ("GPI") falsely marked the products and sold them to the customer defendants. GPI made no allegations that the customer defendants marked the accused products. The customer defendants were, therefore, dismissed.
Further, all defendants were dismissed because Newt only made generalized intent allegations — e.g., that defendants were "sophisticated companies."
Finally, the Complaint was dismissed because Newt made only general allegations against all defendants, rather than particular allegations against each defendant.
Heathcote Holdings Corp. v. William K. Walthers, Inc. d/b/a Darda Toys, No. 09 C. 6722, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 11, 2011) (Bucklo, J.).
Judge Bucklo granted defendants summary judgment that it lacked the intent to deceive required by the false patent marking statute, 35 U.S.C. § 292. While an employee and her team were responsible for the information on the packaging, there was no evidence that the employee or her team were aware that the patents had expired, were (in one case) not the correct patent number or otherwise had any knowledge of the false marking statute. Indeed, plaintiff acknowledged that defendant "makes an effort to ensure that its packaging is truthful." Furthermore, upon learning of plaintiff’s allegations, defendant created an "action plan" to resolve the issues. Defendant segregated the accused inventory, removed the patent information and held new production until its suppliers could change the markings. Based upon these facts, the Court held that no reasonable jury could find that the defendant had the required intent to deceive.
The Court went on to hold that the concepts of agency and collective corporate knowledge, or "collective scienter" were not applicable. The Seventh Circuit had specifically held that intent to deceive is not a corporate attribute.
Simonian v. Edgecraft Corp., No. 10 C 1263, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 20, 2010) (Grady, Sen. J.).
Judge Grady granted defendant Edgecraft’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiff Simonian’s false patent marking claims. The Federal Circuit’s recent decisions rejected two of Edgecraft’s three arguments. In Stauffer, the Federal Circuit held that any individual had standing to sue for false marking without regard to injury in fact. And in Solo Cup, the Federal Circuit held that marking with an expired patent could constitute false patent marking.
The Court, however, held that Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b) heightened pleading standards applied to the intent to deceive requirement. Simonian’s "bare allegations" – and otherwise only "mere labels and conclusions" – at best suggested a "possibility of misconduct," not intent. While Rule 9(b) does allow intent to be pled generally, the allegations must create a reasonable inference that defendant acted with the necessary intent.