IpVenture Inc. v. Dell Inc.
MEMORANDUM ORDER Granting in part and DENYING in part 70 MOTION to Dismiss; GRANTING 43 MOTION to Dismiss; GRANTING 65 MOTION to Dismiss; GRANTING in part and DENYING in part 76 MOTION to Dismiss; GRANTING in part and DENYING in part 82 MO TION to Dismiss; GRANTING in part and DENYING in part [83 MOTION to Dismiss. Plaintiff is granted Leave to Amend its complaint no later than July 13, 2012 (see Memorandum Order for further details). Signed by Judge Richard G. Andrews on 6/29/2012. (nms)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
Civil Action NO. 11-588-RGA
LENOVO GROUP LIMITED,
Before the Court are motions, filed by all remaining defendants, to dismiss for failure to
state a claim. (D.I. 43, 65, 70, 76, 82, 83). All motions seek dismissal of the claims of indirect
infringement. Some of the motions also seek dismissal of the claims of direct infringement.
Some of them further seek dismissal of some or all of the allegations of willfulness.
The Plaintiff in its Amended Complaint 1 asserts that four patents are infringed, all of
which concern "thermal and power management" for "computer systems." The patents are the
'668 patent (issued November 26, 2002), the '993 patent (issued January 23, 2007), the '190
patent (issued March 17, 2009), and the '599 patent (issued May 3, 2011). (D.I. 36, ~~ 17-20).
The amended complaint is 44 pages long, but the allegations, in material respects, are very
similar against all defendants.
For example, it is alleged that Dell infringes the '599 patent by selling "Dell brand
The original complaint named Lenovo but none of the other remaining defendants. (D.I.
computers."2 (Id, ,31 ). It is further alleged that Dell is "actively inducing infringement and/or
contributorily infringing the '599 patent." (/d). Dell is further alleged to have had "actual
knowledge of one or more patents in the '599 patent family no later than September 2003." (!d).
In support of this knowledge allegation, various facts are pled. The Plaintiff sent a notice to Dell
on September 9, 2003, stating, "Dell products appear to utilize the technologies patented by
[Plaintiff] and may be infringing one or more patents in the '599 patent family."3 (!d). Dell has
obtained patents that "cite patents in the '599 patent family." (!d). Bloomberg News in a July
2009 article described Plaintiffs "initiation of litigation against Sony and Panasonic based on
infringement of patents in the '599 patent family." (!d). Someone issued a press release in
February 2011 "which described the settlement of litigation between [Plaintiff] (sic) and the fact
that Sony has taken a license to patents in the '599 patent family." (Id ). The Plaintiff alleges that
"Dell intends and intended to actively induce infringement of the '599 patent with knowledge
that its products were especially adapted for use in an infringement of the '599 patent and lack
substantial non-infringing uses." (!d). The infringement is alleged to be willful. (!d). The
allegations against Dell are identical in all material respects on the other three patents. (See id,
,, 40, 49, 58).
Dell's motion to dismiss (D.I. 70) seeks to dismiss the claims of direct infringement,
induced infringement, contributory infringement, and willfulness (as to the three patents issued
I do not think the Amended Complaint provides any further useful information to Dell
when it states that the infringing products are "Dell brand computers, including notebook
computers, that contain and/or utilize thermal management apparatus and/or methods and meet
the limitations of one or more claims of the '599 patent." (!d). The last part of the allegation
simply means the infringing products are the products that infringe. I suspect all computers have
some sort ofthermal management apparatus (see D.l. 71, at 11), and stating that the notebook
computers are included does not limit the class of accused products.
The actual letter, per Dell, has been filed with the Court. (D.I. 72-1, at 2).
after September 9, 2003).
The minimal allegations set forth in the four paragraphs about Dell (combined with
jurisdictional allegations) are all that are required to satisfy Form 18 and to state a claim of direct
infringement. See In re Bill ofLading Transmission and Processing System Patent Litigation,
2012 WL 2044605, *7 (Fed. Cir. June 7, 2012) ("whether [a complaint] adequately pleads direct
infringement is to be measured by the specificity required by Form 18.").4 Dell particularly
complains about the description of the accused infringing products, which is so general as to be
meaningless. However, as I am bound by the Federal Circuit's decision, I believe Dell's
argument is insufficient since Form 18 uses as an example ofthe accused product "electric
motors," which is analogous to "computers."
The allegations are insufficient to state a claim for indirect infringement. See generally
id Among other things, there is no allegation relating to direct infringement. See id at *5.
There is no allegation that the defendant knew about the existence of the '599 patent, see GlobalTech Appliances, Inc. v. SEB S.A., 131 S.Ct. 2060, 2068 (20 11 ). The allegation of infringement
by inducement seems to blend in contributory infringement. To the extent the allegations can be
read to allege that the defendant knew that the (undescribed) induced acts constituted patent
infringement, see id. at 2068-70, it is wholly unsupported by any factual allegation.
I believe, under the authority of Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and Fowler v.
UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203 (3d Cir. 2009), that the claim of"willfulness" may be alleged
generally, but that there must be facts alleged that "are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a
The Federal Circuit further comments, "It will not always be true that a complaint which
contains just enough information to satisfy a governing form will be sufficient under
Twombly ...." Id at *7 n.6. Given the citations that follow in the footnote, I do not believe this is
meant to be some sort of limitation on the holding in the text.
'plausible claim for relief."' See id at 210-11. Whether the facts are sufficient is a "'contextspecific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common
The factual support for the allegations of willfulness made in connection with the '599
patent is insufficient. The '599 patent was issued on May 3, 2011. The factual allegations
describe discrete events occurring from 2003 to February 2011. At most, the factual allegations
plausibly support the conclusion that both the Plaintiff and Dell had patents in the thermal power
and management field, but there is nothing to plausibly support the conclusion that Dell "acted
despite an objectively high likelihood that its actions constituted infringement of a valid patent,"
and that Dell knew or should have known that its actions constituted infringement of a valid
Thus, as to Dell, the Motion to Dismiss (D.I. 70) is GRANTED IN PART AND
DENIED IN PART. The claims of indirect infringement as to all patents are DISMISSED
WITHOUT PREJUDICE, and the allegations ofwillfulness as to the '599, '190, and '993
patents are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. The claims of direct infringement and
willfulness as to the '668 patent remain.
For similar reasons, on the other motions to dismiss, the Court rules as follows:
1. As to Lenovo, the Motion to Dismiss (D.I. 43) is GRANTED. The claims of indirect
infringement as to all patents are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
2. As to ASUS, the Motion to Dismiss (D.I. 65) is GRANTED. The claims of indirect
infringement and willfulness as to all patents are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
3. As to Acer and Gateway, the Motion to Dismiss (D.I. 76) is GRANTED IN PART
AND DENIED IN PART. The claims of indirect infringement as to all patents, and the claims
ofwillfulness as to the '599, '190, and '993 patents, are DISMISSED WITHOUT
PREJUDICE. The claim of willfulness as to the '668 patent remains.
4. As to Toshiba, the Motion to Dismiss (D.I. 82) is GRANTED IN PART AND
DENIED IN PART. The claims of indirect infringement as to all patents, and the claims of
willfulness as to the '599, '190, and '993 patents, are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
The claims of direct infringement remain.
5. As to Samsung, the Motion to Dismiss (D.I. 83) is GRANTED IN PART AND
DENIED IN PART. The claims of indirect infringement and wilfullness as to all patents are
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. The claims of direct infringement remain.
6. The Plaintiff is granted LEAVE TO AMEND its complaint no later than July 13,
2012. The pending motions relating to jurisdiction, severance, and transfer (D.I. 65 & 97) will
not be decided until after July 13, 2012.
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