Universal Beauty Prods., Inc. v. Morning Glory Prods., Inc., No. 10 C 3212, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Oct. 18, 2012) (Grady, J.).

Judge Grady denied defendant Morning Glory’s motion to transfer venue to the E.D. North Carolina in this competitionbased false patent marking case.  The parties agreed that venue was proper in

Heathcote Holdings Corp., Inc. v. Suncast Corp., No. 11 C 1010, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jul. 25, 2012) (Zagel, J.).

Judge Zagel held that the America Invents Act (“AIA”) provisions limiting false patent marking standing to persons that suffered a competitive injury, even in ongoing cases, was not an unconstitutional taking.  Defendant allegedly marked

Judge Holderman granted defendant Trading Technologies’ (“TT”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and 9(b) motion to dismiss plaintiff GL Trade’s false advertising, unfair competition and deceptive trade practices case alleging that TT misrepresented the scope of its patents. Initially, GL Trade’s Lanham Act false advertising and unfair competition claims were not preempted by patent law. The Federal Circuit held that Lanham Act unfair competition claims based upon marketplace statements were not preempted because the Lanham Act claim required a showing of bad faith. And the allegedly false patent markings were marketplace statements. As a matter of law, TT’s actions could not have been bad faith, although what constitutes bad faith in patent-related communications was “somewhat nebulous.” TT’s belief that the marked products read on the marked patents was legally plausible. GL Trade, therefore, could not have acted in bad faith. Similarly, it was legally plausible for TT to believe that it could mark covered products even when they were not being used in a patented way.

Continue Reading Patent Act Does Not Preempt Patent-Related Lanham Act Claims

Judge Feinerman granted defendant BP Lubricants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiff Simonian’s false patent marking case with prejudice. After the Federal Circuit held Simonian’s intent allegations lacking, Simonian amended its Complaint. The Court held that the amended complaint did not meet Rule 9(b) pleading standards for the following reasons:
Simonian’s allegation that a license agreement proved BP Lubricant’s knowledge of the patent’s expiration failed because the Agreement did not reference the patent’s expiration date.
General allegations that BP Lubricants understand that patents expire did not create intent. Allegations that BP Lubricants briefly litigated the patent may have been sufficient.
The fact that the term of the patent was printed on its face was also not sufficient to show intent. Allowing this allegation to create intent would render the BP Lubricants decision a “dead letter.”
While BP Lubricants allegedly revised its front labels three times after the patent’s expiration, BP Lubricants did not revise the back label containing the marking. Because the marking was never revised, the label revisions were irrelevant.
Finally, because Simonian was fully aware of the BP Lubricants decision when he prepared his amended complaint, and because he did not seek leave to replead the dismissal was made with prejudice.

Continue Reading Revised Label Does Not Create False Marking Intent

Simonian v. Allergan, Inc., No. 10 C 2414, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Apr. 28, 2011) (St. Eve, J.).
Judge St. Eve denied defendant Allergan’s motion to dismiss plaintiff Simonian’s false patent marking suit holding that the false marking statute was constitutional pursuant to the Take Care Clause. The government retained little control over false marking actions, but that was less of a concern because false marking cases were civil not criminal. And, in fact, the government retained sufficient control. The executive branch was notified of each suit because the district court clerk was required to give the Director of the Patent Office (a member of the executive branch) notice of every patent suit. Furthermore, the government may intervene in every case. And when the government intervenes, plaintiff cannot dismiss a case without the government’s agreement.

Continue Reading False Patent Marking is Constitutional

Zojo Sol’ns., Inc. v. Cooper Tools, Inc., No. 10 C 1504, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 15, 2011) (Norgle, J.).
Judge Norgle entered final judgment as part of an agreed settlement that had been approved by the Department of Justice in this false patent marking case, which was entered before President Obama signed the America Invents Act. Of particular interest:
Any litigation involving alleged false marking before the date of the judgment was barred.
Defendant Cooper Tools was free to sell existing inventory with the accused markings as of the Effective Date until such product was fully depleted.

Continue Reading False Patent Marking Settlement Allows Sales of Existing Marked Product

Luka v. The Proctor & Gamble Co., No. 10 C 2511 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 28, 2011) (Kennelly, J.).
Judge Kennelly granted certain defendants’ motions to dismiss plaintiff’s false patent marking case for failure to sufficiently plead intent, and held that the statute was constitutional. Note that this case was decided before President Obama signed the America Invents Act which removes expired patents from the false marking statute.
Proctor & Gamble
Plaintiff’s general allegations against defendant Procter & Gamble were insufficient, particularly in light of the license agreement requiring defendant Innovative to comply with the marking statute.
Plaintiff sufficiently pled intent as to Innovative by attacking the P&G-Innovative license agreement. In that agreement, Innovative accepts the responsibility of complying with the marking statute.
Helen of Troy & Idelle
Plaintiff’s claims as to Helen of Troy and Idelle failed because they were the sort of generalized pleadings that BP Lubricants held insufficient.
The Court held that § 292, the false marking statue was constitutional:
For these reasons, the Court agrees with the district court in the Pequignot case that “[a]though these mechanisms concededly do not rise to the same level of government control provided by the FCA, the FCA’s strict safeguards are not required because . . . § 292(b) represents a minimal intrusion onto Executive Branch power.” Peguignot v. Solo Cup Co., 640 F. Supp. 2d 714, 728 (E.D. Va. 2009), vacated in part on other grounds, 608 F.3d 1356 (Fed. Cir. 2010).

Continue Reading False Patent Marking Statute is Constitutional

Simonian v. Astellas Pharma US Inc., No. 10 C 1539, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 28, 2011) (Coleman, J.).
Judge Coleman granted defendant Astella’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiff Simonian’s false patent marking claims for failure to meet the Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b) heightened pleading standards, but did so without prejudice. The Court held that Simonian’s complaint contained “precisely the same” general allegations — a “sophisticated company” that “knew or should have known” of the expired patent — that the Federal Circuit rejected as deficient in BP Lubricants.

Continue Reading False Marking Claim Dismissed for Generalized Pleading

Heathcote Holdings Corp., Inc. v. Maybelline LLC, No. 10 C 2544, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 15, 2011) (Pallmeyer, J.).
Judge Pallmeyer granted in part defendants’ (collectively “Maybelline”) motion to dismiss plaintiff Heathcote’s false patent marking case. The Court also granted Maybelline’s motion to transfer the case to the Southern District of New York. In this pre-BP Lubricants case, the Court held that Heathcote had sufficiently pled intent to deceive by pleading the allegedly false statement and Maybelline’s knowledge of the false statement. These are the type of allegations specifically held to be in sufficient by BP Lubricants.
Heathcote did not oppose Maybelline’s motion to dismiss L’Oreal USA Creative, so long as it was given leave to replead if it later found Maybelline’s representations were wrong.
Finally, the Court transferred the case to Maybelline’s home district, the Southern District of New York. One key factor was that the alleged conduct would have largely occurred at Maybelline’s headquarters, in New York. The Court also held that the sources of proof in the case will be more accessible in New York than in Illinois.

Continue Reading Pre-BP Lubricant Case Allows General Pleading for Intent to Deceive

Simonian v. Maybelline LLC, No. 10 C 1615, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 14, 2011) (Kendall, J.)
Judge Kendall denied defendant Maybelline’s motion to dismiss, granted its motion to transfer and denied as moot its motion to stay pending the Federal Circuits standing decision in Stauffer, in this false patent marking case. The Court held, pre-BP Lubricant, that Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b) pleading applied to the intent element, but because the intent went to state of mind the fraud could be alleged generally, inconsistent with BP Lubricants. Because plaintiff Simonian had generally pled intent, the complaint was sufficient.
The Court then transferred the case to the Southern District of New York, Maybelline’s home district. As a relator plaintiff, Simonian’s choice of forum was given little deference. And the situs of material facts was where marking decisions were made – New York – not where marked products were bought – Illinois. The Court, therefore, transferred the case.

Continue Reading Situs of Material Events in False Marking Cases is Where Marking Occurred