Pragmatus Telecom LLC v. Seagate Technology (US) Holdings Inc.
MEMORANDUM OPINION regarding the Motions for Summary Judgment (D.I. 60 and 61 ). Signed by Judge Richard G. Andrews on 9/22/2015. (nms)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY (US)
Civil Action No. 12-1686-RGA
SYNTELLECT, INC., FIKJAJ APROPOS
TECHNOLOGY, INC and ENGHOUSE
Karen Jacobs, Esq., Michael J. Flynn, Esq., Morris, Nichols, Arsht &Tunnell LLP, Wilmington,
DE; Vera M. Elson, Esq. (argued), Anthony J Weibell, Esq., Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati,
P.C., Palo Alto, CA; Kate P. Mahaffy, Esq., Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, P.C.,
Washington, D.C., attorneys for Plaintiff Seagate Technology (US) Holdings Inc.
Lauren E. Maguire, Esq., Ashby & Geddes, Wilmington, DE; Douglas C. Northup, Esq., Andrea
L. Marconi, Esq., Courtney R. Beller, Esq. (argued), Fennemore Craig, P.C., Phoenix, AZ; Brian
Hawkins, Esq., Fennemore Craig, P.C., Denver, CO, attorneys for Defendant Enghouse
Presently before the Court are cross motions for summary judgment. (D.I. 60, 61).
Defendant Enghouse Interactive Inc. moved for summary judgment of non-liability. (D.I. 60).
Plaintiff Seagate Technology (US) Holdings, Inc. moved for summary judgment of liability and
on Defendant's affirmative defenses of apportionment and comparative fault. (D.I. 61). The
matter has been fully briefed. (D.I. 62, 66, 74, 80). The Court heard oral argument on June 4,
2015. (D.I. 84). For the reasons set forth herein, Defendant's motion is DENIED. Plaintiffs
motion is GRANTED.
In 2004, Seagate entered into a software license agreement and maintenance service
agreement with Apropos Technology Inc., Enghouse's predecessor-in-interest. 1 (D.I. 66 at p. 2).
In 2009, Seagate and Enghouse entered into an Assignment and Modification Agreement. (D.I.
63-1 ). These license agreements gave Seagate the right to use Enghouse software designed to
facilitate live chat services. (D.I. 62 at p. 1). The agreements included indemnification
provisions, which are discussed more fully below.
On December 11, 2012, Pragmatus Telecom, LLC filed a patent infringement action
against Seagate. (D.I. 1). Pragmatus alleged that Seagate infringed three of its patents by
"provid[ing] live chat services over the Internet." (Id. at 2-3). In particular, Pragmatus accused
"all live chat and live help products and services made, used or sold from 2006 to the present,
including, but not limited to, those supplied by Syn[t]ellect/Enghouse." (D.I. 63-4 at 34). In
February and March of 2013, Seagate requested that Enghouse defend and indemnify Seagate
Enghouse (formerly known as Syntellect, Inc.) acquired Apropos in 2005. (D.I. 62 at p. 1, D.I. 66 at p. 4 n.4).
Though listed as separate parties in the complaint, Syntellect and Enghouse are not separate entities. (D.I. 27 at p.
2). For the sake of clarity, I will refer to Enghouse, Syntellect and Apropos as "Enghouse" or "Defendant."
against the Pragmatus lawsuit. (D.I. 62 at p. 9). Enghouse declined. (Id.). On August 6,
2013, Seagate filed the instant breach of contract action against Enghouse. (D.I. 23).
In August 2014, Seagate and Pragmatus settled their lawsuit. (D.I. 62 at p. 10).
"The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED.
R. Crv. P. 56(a). The moving party has the initial burden of proving the absence of a genuinely
disputed material fact relative to the claims in question. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
330 (1986). Material facts are those "that could affect the outcome" of the proceeding, and "a
dispute about a material fact is 'genuine' if the evidence is sufficient to permit a reasonable jury
to return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Lamont v. New Jersey, 637 F.3d 177, 181 (3d Cir.
2011) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). The burden on the
moving party may be discharged by pointing out to the district court that there is an absence of
evidence supporting the non-moving party's case. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.
The burden then shifts to the non-movant to demonstrate the existence of a genuine issue
for trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986);
Williams v. Borough of West Chester, Pa., 891 F.2d 458, 460-61 (3d Cir. 1989). A non-moving
party asserting that a fact is genuinely disputed must support such an assertion by: "(A) citing to
particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations ... , admissions, interrogatory answers, or
other materials; or (B) showing that the materials cited [by the opposing party] do not establish
the absence ... of a genuine dispute .... " Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(l).
When determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must view
the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable
inferences in that party's favor. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007); Wishkin v. Potter,
476 F.3d 180, 184 (3d Cir. 2007). A dispute is "genuine" only ifthe evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-49.
If the non-moving paiiy fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of its case
with respect to which it has the burden of proof, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter oflaw. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322.
In this case, the parties agree that the Court should determine Enghouse's contractual
liability on summary judgment as a matter of law. (D.I. 62 at p. ·10). The parties agree that
California law governs the interpretation of the contracts at issue. (Id).
"The question whether an indemnity agreement covers a given case turns primarily on
contractual interpretation, and it is the intent of the parties as expressed in the agreement that
should control." St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Am. Dynasty Surplus Lines Ins. Co., 124
Cal. Rptr. 2d 818, 825 (2002). There are three related contracts at issue. The Software License
Agreement ("SLA") and Maintenance and Support Services Agreement ("MSSA") were
executed together in 2004. 2 (D.I. 62 at p. 5). The agreements were renewed and modified by
the 2009 Assignment and Modification Agreement ("AMA"). (Id).
The AMA provides:
This Assignment assigns, modifies and supersedes, to the extent of any inconsistencies,
the provisions of the Software License, the MSSA, and the PSA, as well as any invoices
A third agreement was also executed at the same time, but it is irrelevant for present purposes.
performed under these agreements (collectively where appropriate the "Three
Agreements"). . . . In the event of a conflict between agreements, the governing terms
are taken from, in order of priority, (1) this Amendment; (2) the Software License; (3) the
MSSA; and the [sic] (4) the PSA.
(D.I. 63-1 at 3). The AMA explains the scope of the underlying agreements. It states that the
SLA "defines the terms under which software is licensed by Seagate from [Enghouse]." (Id).
The AMA further states that the MSSA "defines the terms and conditions for maintenance and
support for software licensed by Seagate from [Enghouse]." (Id.).
The SLA grants Seagate a license to use Enghouse's live chat software. (Id. at 11). The
SLA includes the following indemnification provisions:
8.1. General Indemnification. Supplier will defend and indemnify Seagate, its parents,
subsidiaries and Affiliates, and its and their respective directors, officers, partners,
employees, agents, successors and assigns ("Indemnified Parties") against any claims,
demands, lawsuits, damages, liabilities, judgments and settlements of every kind,
including reasonable attorney fees that arise out of, relate to, or result from (a) injuries
(including death) to persons or damage to property, including theft, resulting from the
acts or omissions of Supplier or those persons furnished by Supplier, including its
subcontractors (if any); or (b) Supplier's breach of any warranties set forth in Section 7.
8.2. Infringement Indemnity. Supplier will defend and indemnify and hold harmless the
Indemnified Parties against any loss, damage, expense, cost (including, but not limited to,
any attorney fees incurred in the enforcement of this indemnity) or liability arising out of,
relating to, or resulting from a claim alleging that the Software or the related services
infringe the intellectual property of a third party, including but not limited to
infringement of copyright or patent right, or misappropriation of trade secrets
(collectively, "IP Claim").
(D.I. 63-1 at 15).
The MSSA contains a separate warranty and indemnification provision:
4. Warranty 4.1. Supplier represents and warrants that the Support and Maintenance
Services will be performed in a fully workmanlike manner and will not infringe on the
intellectual property rights of any third party (including but not limited to copyright or
patent infringement, or trade secret misappropriation). Supplier agrees to indemnify,
hold harmless, and defend Seagate (including its directors, members, officers, employees,
agents and other representatives) from all third party claims brought against Seagate
(including paying the defense costs and reasonable attorneys' fees, judgments and other
expenses or lfabilities) arising out of, resulting from, or relating to Supplier's breach of
the warranties set forth in this Section 4. Notwithstanding anything herein to the
contrary, Supplier shall have no liability to Customer if the claim is based upon: (a) the
combination of the Software with any product not furnished by Supplier; (b) the
modification of the Software by a party other than Supplier; (c) the use of other than a
current, unaltered release of the Software; (d) the use of the Software as part of an
(D.I. 63-2 at 12).
Plaintiff argues that, under California law, when a supplier agrees to defend and
indemnify a customer for damages "arising out of' or "resulting from" allegations that its
product infringes, the supplier's liability is triggered by any infringement allegations "causally
related in some manner to" the customer's use of the product. (D.I. 62 at p. 11 (quoting S.
California Gas Co. v. Syntellect, Inc., 534 F. App'x 637, 638-39 (9th Cir. 2013) ("SoCal II"))). 3
Plaintiff maintains that Enghouse agreed to defend and indemnify Seagate against "any claims"
"of every kind" that "arise out of, relate to, or result from" allegations that Seagate's use of the
licensed product infringes a third pru.iy's patent. (Id. at p. 14). Plaintiff argues that the
infringement allegations were causally related to its use of the live chat software because the live
chat system Pragmatus accused of infringement is enabled by the licensed software. (Id. at p.
Plaintiff further argues that the combination exclusion in the MSSA applies only to
maintenance and support services. (D.I. 74 at p. 14). Plaintiffs note that the AMA, which
Plaintiff argues that a series of four decisions regarding similar claims against Enghouse (then Syntellect) are issue
preclusive. See S. California Gas Co. v. Syntel/ect, Inc., 2011 WL 1168444 (S.D. Cal. Mar. 28, 2011) ("SoCal f')
(finding that Syntellect breached its obligation to defend and indemnify licensee); SoCal II, 534 F. App'x 637
(affirming grant of partial summary judgment against Syntellect); S. California Gas Co. v. Syntellect, Inc., 2014 WL
334462 (S.D. Cal. Jan. 28, 2014) ("SoCal Jlf') (finding that apportionment of damages was not warranted); S.
California Gas Co. v. Syntellect, Inc., 593 F. App'x 732 (9th Cir. 2015) ("SoCal IV") (affirming denial of
apportionment). I do not agree that issue preclusion applies. Though similar, the indemnification provisions in
SoCal were not the same as those at issue. The cases are persuasive, but they are not preclusive.
modifies and supersedes the previous. contracts, specifies that the SLA governs licensing terms
and the MSSA governs support and maintenance terms. (Id). Plaintiff maintains that
Defendant's interpretation of the contracts would render all defense and indemnity provisions
null and void because the software is always used on a computer. (Id at p. 18). Enghouse
provided specifications regarding which hardware to use and how to set up the system, and there
is no dispute that Seagate complied with those specifications. (D.I. 84 at 28).
Defendant responds that Pragmatus accused Seagate's entire live chat system, not the live
chat software itself. (D.I. 66 at p. 9). Defendant maintains that the combination exclusion in
the MSSA applies to the entire licensing arrangement and precludes Pragmatus's infringement
allegations against the live chat system from triggering Enghouse's indemnity obligation. (Id at
p. 16). The MSSA provides: "Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, Supplier shall
have no liability to Customer ifthe claim is based upon: (a) the combination of the Software with
any product not furnished by Supplier .... " (D.I. 63-2 at 12). Defendant notes that the SLA
defines "Software" as "the computer programs and applications available under this agreement ..
. ." (D.I. 66 at p. 17). Thus, Defendant contends that the combination exclusion applies to all
"Software" under the terms of the MSSA. (Id). Because Seagate used the software in
combination with other products, such as a computer to run the software, Defendant argues that
the combination exclusion applies. (Id at pp. 17-18).
Defendant further argues that, even ifthe combination exclusion does not apply,
Enghouse's defense and indemnity obligations were not triggered because there was never an
allegation that the software infringed. (D.I. 84 at 51-52). Rather, Pragmatus accused the entire
live chat system, of which the software is just one part. (Id).
I do not agree that the combination exclusion in the MSSA applies. The plain language
of the MSSA's indemnity clause makes clear that it applies to any claim "arising out of, resulting
from, or relating to Supplier's breach of the warranties set forth in this Section 4." (D.I. 63-2 at
Pragmatus's infringement allegations had nothing to do with support and maintenance or
anything discussed in § 4 of the MSSA. In addition, I do not think that a rational drafter who
intended the combination exclusion to apply to the entire scope of the licensing arrangement
would include it only in the narrower support and maintenance agreement and not the license
agreement itself. Redlines of the SLA as it was being negotiated show that Enghouse proposed
including a combination exclusion in the SLA, but the language was not ultimately included.
(D.I. 63-3 at 39). The AMA, which takes priority over the earlier agreements, makes clear that
the MSSA governs support and maintenance services and the SLA governs licensing.
California courts have given a "consistently broad interpretation ... to phrases such as
'arising out of or 'arising from' and 'resulting from."' St. Paul Fire, 124 Cal. Rptr. 2d at 826.
"Liability will attach ifthe indemnitor's performance under the contract is 'causally related in
some manner to the injury for which indemnity is claimed.'" SoCal II, 534 Fed. App'x at 638
(quoting St. Paul Fire, 124 Cal. Rptr. 2d at 828). Defendant's contention that the lawsuit did
not result from its product because the entire live chat system, not the software alone, was
accused is unavailing. The SLA granted a license to "use, execute, perform, display and
reproduce the Software .... " (D.I. 63-1 at 11). The software cannot be used or executed
without a computer. The complaint clearly arises from Seagate's use of the software even
though other elements of the live chat system were also accused.
Enghouse has unsuccessfully pressed similar arguments in the past. For example, in
Branch Banking & Trust Co. v. Syntellect, Inc., the court reasoned that even though the entire
call system was accused rather than just the software, "the court has little difficulty concluding
that [the] complaint claimed that the software infringed a United States patent." 2010 WL
2947772, *6 (M.D. Ala. July 22, 2010). 4 There, as here, the Enghouse software enabled the
system, even though other elements were included in the system. (Id). "Only on the most
illogical reading of the complaint could the court conclude that it did not claim the software
infringes a patent." (Id). Similarly, in SoCal, the court held, "Syntellect clearly provided the
computer software to automate the various aspects of Southern California Gas's telephone
customer service operations, and clearly that software is causally related to the patent
infringement alleged .... " SoCal I, 2011 WL 1168444, at *3.
The Pragmatus lawsuit triggered Enghouse's obligation to defend and indemnify Seagate.
By refusing to do so, Enghouse breached the contract. I will therefore grant summary judgment
of liability to Plaintiff.
Plaintiff argues that Enghouse is liable for all recoverable damages, and there should thus
be no apportionment. (D.I. 62 at p. 17). Plaintiff maintains that the court in SoCal !!!held that
there is no right to apportionment absent an express provision in the parties' contract. (Id).
Plaintiff contends that there is no such limitation of indemnity in the contract at issue. (Id).
Rather, Plaintiff argues that the SLA makes Enghouse liable for "any loss, damage, expense, cost
(including, but not limited to, any attorney fees incurred in the enforcement of this indemnity) or
liability arising out of, relating to, or resulting from" a covered claim. (Id at pp. 17-18 (quoting
D.I. 63-1 at 15)).
The court in Branch applied Arizona law, but "the pertinent similarities make the opinion persuasive." SoCal I,
2011 WL 1168444, at *4.
Defendant responds that California law requires apportionment. (D.I. 66 at p. 25).
Defendant argues that Peter Culley & Associates v. Superior Court, 13 Cal. Rptr. 2d 624 (1992),
and Heppler v. JM Peters Co., 87 Cal. Rptr. 2d 497 (1999), "establish that, if an indemnitee
settles with the plaintiff in the underlying lawsuit, the indemnitee has a legal duty to prove the
proper apportionment of the settlement, if any, to the indemnitor." (D.I. 66 at pp. 25-26).
Defendant maintains that the Enghouse software is just one component of the accused system,
and Seagate must therefore prove the amount of the settlement attributable to Enghouse. (Id at
I do not think Peter Culley or Heppler apply. In Peter Culley, there was no dispute that
the agreement required apportionment.
13 Cal. Rptr. 2d at 633. In Heppler, the court held that
parties "have great freedom of action in allocating risk" and "may require negligence by the
indemnitor as a condition to indemnification." 87 Cal. Rptr. 2d at 1277. The court analyzed
the indemnity provision at issue and found that "indemnitor fault was a prerequisite for
There is no language in the indemnification provision here that provides for
apportionment or indicates indemnitor fault is relevant.
The court in SoCal III analyzed a similar indemnity provision to the one at issue here. In
SoCal II, the Ninth Circuit remanded and instructed the district court to determine whether
apportionment was required. SoCal II, 534 Fed. App'x at 639. There, the contract provided
that "[Syntellect] shall indemnify, defend, and hold [SoCal Gas] ... harmless from and against
any and all claims, actions, suits, proceedings, losses, liabilities, penalties, damages, costs or
expenses (including attorney's fees and disbursements) of any kind whatsoever arising from" a
covered claim. SoCal III, 2014 WL 334462, at *1 (alterations in original). The district court,
addressing the same argument Defendant now makes, held:
The indemnity obligation at hand makes no effort to allocate damages. Instead
Syntellect agreed to indemnify SoCal Gas for "any and all" damages "of any kind
whatsoever" arising from infringement claims in connection with the System. As all of
the damages paid arose from infringement claims for services enabled by the use of the
System, Syntellect must pay them in their entirety. It is therefore irrelevant whether
other components or actions by SoCal Gas were necessary for infringement or
contributed to infringement.
SoCal III, 2014 WL 334462, at *8. The Ninth Circuit affirmed. SoCal IV, 593 F. App'x 732.
I agree with the reasoning in SoCal. The SLA requires indemnity for "any" damages
"arising out of, relating to, or resulting from" infringement allegations. (D.I. 63-1 at 15). That
language is broad, and gives no suggestion that the contribution of other non-Enghouse
components to the infringment are relevant. I find that there is no genuine issue of material fact
relating to whether apportionment is required. It is not. I will therefore grant summary
judgment to Plaintiff as to Defendant's affirmative defenses of apportionment and comparative
For the reasons set forth herein, Defendant's motion is DENIED. Plaintiff's motion is
GRANTED. An appropriate order will be entered.
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