Addiction & Detoxification Institute, LLC v. Epperly, No. 11 C 5947, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. May 23, 2012) (Dow, J.).

Judge Dow granted defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiff’s patent infringement suit without prejudice to refile within twenty one days.  Plaintiff’s complaint was “woefully deficient” asserting only that defendants “practiced

Groupon Inc. v. MobGob LLC, No. 10 C 7456, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. May 25, 2011) (Hibbler, Sen. J.).
Judge Hibbler granted plaintiff Groupon’s motion to strike defendant MobGob’s affirmative defenses and to dismiss MobGob’s counterclaims, and denied MobGob’s motion to dismiss Groupon’s claim in this patent dispute involving online marketing systems.
MobGob’s Motion to Dismiss
Groupon pled the intent elements of its indirect infringement claims upon information and belief. And that pleading was sufficient even though intent is governed by Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b) because even pursuant to Rule 9(b), intent and knowledge can be pled generally. Additionally, it was reasonable to infer from Groupon’s allegations that MobGob created or had someone create the accused system and the public nature of Groupon’s patent that MobGob had actually knowledge of its accused infringement.
Groupon’s Motions to Strike and Dismiss
First, Groupon sought to strike MobGob’s affirmative defense of invalidity. The Court initially noted that motions to strike are disfavored because they are unlikely to streamline a case or make resolving the case more efficient. But the Court still struck MobGob’s invalidity defense. MobGob’s invalidity defense did nothing more than identify the relevant statutory sections, offering not a single fact, upon information and belief or otherwise. While the Court noted there were some policy reasons for not holding affirmative defenses and counterclaims to the Twombly/Iqbal standards, the Seventh Circuit required that they be met for any pleading. The Court, therefore, struck MobGob’s invalidity defense. And for the same reason, the Court dismissed MobGob’s invalidity counterclaim because it also offered no facts. The Court also noted that it would not excuse inadequate pleading because of the Local Patent Rule 2.3(b) invalidity contentions that MobGob would be required to serve shortly after answering. The LPR 2.3(b) disclosures require significantly more detail than Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 notice pleading. So, MobGob could meet its Rule 8 obligations without providing the level of detail required by LPR 2.3(b).
The Court also struck MobGob’s affirmative defense regarding ownership of Groupon’s patent because it also lacked factual support, and because it did not accept Groupon’s facts as true, as required by an affirmative defense, instead challenging Groupon’s facts.

Continue Reading Local Patent Rules Do Not Trump Rule 8 Pleading Requirements

Simonian v. Irwin Indus. Tool Co., No. 10 C 1260, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 27, 2010) (Lindberg, Sen. J.).
Judge Lindberg denied defendant Irwin Industrial Tool’s (“Irwin”) motion to dismiss plaintiff Simonian’s false patent marking case. First, the Court denied Irwin’s standing arguments. While the Federal Circuit had not yet issued its Stauffer decision regarding standing, the Court used similar reasoning. The Court analogized to the False Claims Act and held that any person had standing without proof of an injury in fact. The false marking injury is to the government and the public at large.
The Court also held that Simonian sufficiently pled the requisite intent to deceive, whether notice pleading or Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b) standards applied. Simonian pled that Irwin was a “sophisticated company” with years of patent experience and that Irwin knew or should have known the patent was expired when it was marked.

Continue Reading Any Person Has Standing to Bring False Patent Marking Claim

Golden Golf Lighting, Inc. v. Greenwich Indus., L.P., No. 07 C 1086, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 18, 2010) (Andersen, J.).
Judge Andersen denied defendant Clarin’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a), 9(b) and 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss this Lanham Act case regarding Clarin’s allegedly fraudulent procurement of a trademark related to folding seats.
First, 15 U.S.C. § 1120 limited recovery to injuries sustained “in consequence” of a trademark registered by fraud or false reasons. The damages need not be to a trademark, as Clarin argued. Plaintiff’s alleged damage because its folding chairs were seized at the U.S. border based upon alleged infringement of Clarin’s trademark and plaintiffs allegedly lost business based upon the seizure. Those facts were sufficient to plead that Clarin was the proximate cause of plaintiff’s alleged damages.
Plaintiffs pled fraud with sufficient particularity by incorporating by reference the fraud-related decision in Specialized Seating v. Greenwich Indus., L.P., 472 F.Supp. 2d 999 (N.D. Ill. 1999). Finally, Plaintiffs did not violate Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a) or 8(d)(1) by combining two claims into a single count. Notice pleading did not require separate headings for each claim.

Continue Reading Fraud Sufficiently Pled by Citing to Earlier Fraud Decision

Kingsbury Int’l., Ltd. v. Trade the News, Inc., No 08 C 3110, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Oct. 28, 2008) (Lindberg, Sen. J.).
Judge Lindberg denied defendant’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiff’s copyright infringement claim and defendant’s alternative Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e) motion for a more definite statement of the claim. Plaintiff alleged that it owned a copyright in its Chicago Business Barometer monthly business index; that it specifically informed its subscribers that the index was copyrighted and that it could not be reproduced or rebroadcast in any manner until plaintiff publicly released the index at 8:45 AM; and that defendant released unidentified “parts” of the May 2007 issue of the index at 8:42 AM, three minutes before plaintiff’s public release. The Court held that these allegations met the Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a) pleading standards, without specifically identifying which parts of the index were copied, noting that copyright claims did not require Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b) heightened pleading. Furthermore, defendant’s defense that, if anything, it copied only unprotected facts was not appropriate for a Rule 12(b) determination on the pleadings.
Finally, the Court held that the complaint was not “so vague or ambiguous” that it warranted requiring a more definite statement.

Continue Reading Copyright Plaintiff Need Not Identify Specific Portions of Work Allegedly Copied

Edge Capture L.L.C. v. Lehman Bros. Holdings, Inc., No. 08 C 24112, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 28, 2008) (Darrah, J.).
Judge Darrah denied defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ patent complaint and defendants’ motion to bifurcate invalidity and enforceability from liability and damages issues. Plaintiffs’ complaint was sufficient for the Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a) notice pleading standards. It pled ownership of a patent to a trading system and infringement by defendants “by making, selling, and using [the device] embodying the patent.” (brackets in the opinion). Plaintiffs were not required to plead infringement by specific devices.
While the Court had broad discretion to bifurcate issues and to stay discovery on the bifurcated issues, it was not warranted in this case because defendants did not meet their burden of proof. While bifurcating would significantly speed resolution if defendants’ invalidity or inequitable conduct arguments succeeded, bifurcation could significantly delay the case should defendants lose their invalidity and inequitable conduct arguments. Because defendants had not proven that they were likely to succeed, the Court denied the motion to bifurcate.

Continue Reading Patent Complaint Need Not Identify Specific Products

Nutrinova Nutrition Specialties & Food Ingredients GmbH v. Viachem, No. 07 C 4232, Min. Order (N.D. Ill. Nov. 27, 2007) (St. Eve, J.).
Judge St. Eve granted in part plaintiff’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e) motion for a more definite statement regarding defendant The Ingredient House’s (“TIH”) affirmative defenses and counterclaim. The Court ordered TIH to amend its patent misuse affirmative defense to provide factual allegations outlining the alleged misuse. TIH’s original defense simply stated that plaintiff’s claims were “barred by patent misuse.” The Court also ordered TIH to amend “incongruous statements” in its pleading that appeared to be clerical errors.
The Court denied plaintiff’s motion as to TIH’s defamation counterclaim. TIH was not required to plead which state’s law governed TIH’s defamation claim.
Practice Tip: Defendants frequently plead affirmative defenses with an unsupported statement of the defense. The better practice, and the one that avoids Rule 12(e) motions, is to plead at least the basic facts underlying the defense.

Continue Reading Parties Must Plead Facts for Affirmative Defenses

WMH Tool Group, Inc. v. Woodstock Int’l, Inc., No. 07 C 3885, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Nov. 14, 2007) (Darrah, J.).*
Judge Darrah denied defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiff WMH Tool Group’s (“WMH”) Lanham Act dilution claim and its related Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (“Consumer Fraud Act”) claim. WMH registered a trade dress for the color white on its woodworking and metal working products, sold under its JET brand. WMH alleged that its white trade dress was both famous and exclusively associated with WHM’s tools. WMH further alleged that defendant Woodstock International (“Woodstock”) diluted WMH’s trade dress by selling woodworking and metal working tools in WMH’s distinctive white color under Woodstock’s Shop Fox brand. Similarly, WMH alleged that defendant Grizzly Industrial (“Grizzly”) diluted WMH’s trade dress by selling woodworking and metal working tools in WMH’s distinctive white color under Grizzly’s Grizzly or Grizzly Industrial brands.
Defendants argued that WMH did not state a claim for dilution because the complaint did not specify the date when WMH’s trade dress became famous and that defendants’ allegedly infringing sales began after that date. But the Court held that notice pleading did not require that WMH plead specific dates. It was enough that WMH pled that the trade dress had become famous and that defendants’ infringement of the trade dress occurred after the fame was acquired.
Defendants also argued that WMH lacked standing to bring a Consumer Fraud Act claim because WMH was not a “person” or a “consumer” pursuant to the Act. But the Court held that 815 ILCS 505/1(1)(c) defined “persons” to include business entities, and that a plaintiff need not be an actual consumer to bring a claim pursuant to the Consumer Fraud Act.
* Click here for a copy of the opinion.

Continue Reading Specific Dates Not Required for Dilution Complaint

Medallion Products, Inc. v. H.C.T.V., Inc., No. 06 C 2597, 2007 WL 3085913 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 18, 2007) (Darrah, J.).
Judge Darrah dismissed defendant Broadcast Arts Group (“BAG”) for lack of personal jurisdiction, but held that the Court had personal jurisdiction over defendant ICC, Woodridge Specialty Products Corp. and an individual defendant (collectively “ICC Defendants”). Plaintiffs argued that BAG’s tortious acts against plaintiffs, all Illinois residents, created personal jurisdiction based upon the effects test doctrine. But the Court held that the alleged tortious acts against were not sufficient for jurisdiction because BAG was a Florida resident and all of its allegedly tortious acts were performed in Florida or Pennsylvania, at the request of non-Illinois residents.
The alleged tortious acts of the ICC Defendants, however, did create personal jurisdiction pursuant to the effects test doctrine. The ICC Defendants allegedly entered an agreement to develop, market and sell a counterfeit pet-stain removal product that was packaged in bottles using plaintiff’s “Urine Gone” logo. The alleged acts and resulting injury would have occurred in Illinois.
The Court also held that plaintiffs met the Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 pleading standards as clarified in Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, ____ U.S. ____, 127 S. Ct. 1955 (2007). So, the Court denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ state law claims.

Continue Reading Jursidictional Effects Test Doctrine Still Requires Some Connection to the Forum

Ace v. Marn, No. 06 C 5335, 2007 WL 1541747 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 17, 2007) (St. Eve, J.).
Judge St. Eve granted in part and denied in part plaintiff/counterdefendant Ace Hardware Corp.’s (“Ace”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss defendants/counter-plaintiffs’ (collectively “Marn”) counterclaims. The Court denied the motion as to Marn’s breach of contract claim and dismissed Marn’s fraud and tortious interference claims. Ace and Marn entered an agreement (the “Agreement”) allowing Marn the right to use certain Ace trademarks and to purchase product for resale from Ace. Marn alleged that Ace and its representatives breached the Agreement, made numerous misrepresentations leading up to the signing of the Agreement and failed to provide promised inventory. Ace argued that Marn’s breach of contract claim should be dismissed because it did not identify a specific provision of the Agreement that was breached, citing several Northern District cases. But noted that each of Marn’s cases came down before the Seventh Circuit’s decision in Kolupa v. Roselle Park Dist., 438 F.3d 713, (7th Cir. 2006). In Kolupa the Seventh Circuit explained the Rule 8(a)(2) requirements:
[i]t is enough to name the plaintiff and the defendant, state the nature of the grievance, and give a few tidbits (such as the date) that will let the defendant investigate. . . . Any district judge (for that matter, any defendant) tempted to write “this complaint is deficient because it does not contain …” should stop and think: What rule of law requires a complaint to contain that allegation? Any decision declaring “this complaint is deficient because it does not allege X” is a candidate for summary reversal, unless X is on the list in Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b).
Kolupa at 714-15 (emphasis in original). Based upon the Kolupa decision the Court held that Marn was not required to cite a specific breached section of the Agreement.
The Court dismissed, with leave to amend, Marn’s fraud claim because it failed to identify the specific Ace individuals that allegedly made the material false statements or where the statements were made. The Court dismissed Marn’s tortious interference claim because Ace is a party to the Agreement and, therefore, cannot tortiously interfere with the Agreement.

Continue Reading Rule 8 Does Not Require Identification of the Specific Contract Provision Allegedly Breached