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Could Farm Associates, Lp v. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.

United States District Court, Third Circuit

July 2, 2013

COULD FARM ASSOCIATES, L.P., Plaintiff,
v.
VOLKSWAGEN GROUP OF AMERICA, INC., AND ZF SACHS AG, Defendants.

Joseph C. Schoell, DRINKER BIDDLE & REATH LLP, Wilmington, DE, Wilson M. Brown, III, Robert A. Koons, Jr., Andrea L. D'Ambra, Michael J. Burg, Jr., DRINKER BIDDLE & REATH LLP, Philadelphia, PA, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

James D. Taylor, Jr., SAUL EWING LLP, Wilmington, DE Michael J. Lennon, Georg C. Reitboeck, KENYON & KENYON LLP, New York, NY Susan A. Smith, KENYON & KENYON LLP, Washington DC, Attorneys for Defendant Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.

Tiffany G. Lydon, Andrew C. Mayo, ASHBY & GEDDES, Wilmington, DE, Martin B. Pavane, Lisa A. Ferrari, Marilyn Neiman, COZEN O'CONNOR, New York, NY, Attorneys for Defendant ZF Sachs AG.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

LEONARD P. STARK, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.'s ("VW") Motion to Dismiss Cloud Farm Associates, L.P.'s ("Cloud Farm") Willful Infringement Claim. (D.I. 171) For the reasons set forth below, the Court will DENY the motion.

I. INTRODUCTION

Cloud Farm filed suit against VW and ZF Sachs AG on June 9, 2010 alleging infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 5, 437, 354 (the "354 patent") and 5, 529, 153.[1] (D.I. 1)

On July 1, 2011, Cloud Farm moved to amend its complaint to include a claim of willful infringement based on Cloud Farm's knowledge of the '354 patent in 1999. (D.I. 60) The Court granted Cloud Farm's motion. (D.I. 161)

On September 7, 2012, VW filed the present motion, requesting that the Court dismiss Cloud Farm's claim for willful infringement of the '354 patent for failure to state a claim. (D.I. 171)

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

The sufficiency of pleadings for non-fraud cases is governed by Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." When presented with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, courts conduct a two-part analysis. See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). First, courts separate the factual and legal elements of a claim, accepting "all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but [disregarding] any legal conclusions." Id. at 210-11. This step requires courts to draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. See Maio v. Aetna, Inc., 221 F.3d 472, 500 (3d Cir. 2000). However, the Court is not obligated to accept as true "bald assertions, " Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) (internal quotation marks omitted), "unsupported conclusions and unwarranted inferences, " Schuylkill Energy Res., Inc. v. Pa. Power & Light Co., 113 F.3d 405, 417 (3d Cir. 1997), or allegations that are "self-evidently false, " Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 69 (3d Cir. 1996).

Second, courts determine "whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a plausible claim for relief.'" Fowler, 578 F.3d at 211 (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009)). A claim is facially plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. This is a context-specific determination, requiring the court "to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 679. At bottom, "[t]he complaint must state enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of [each] necessary element" of a claim. Wilkerson v. New Media Tech. Charter Sch. Inc., 522 F.3d 315, 321 (3d Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted).

"[W]hen the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief, this basic deficiency should... be exposed at the point of minimum expenditure of time and money by the parties and the court." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 558 (2007) (internal quotation marks omitted). Finally, although a non-fraud claim need not be pled with particularity or specificity, that claim ...


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