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Telecomm Innovations, LLC v. Ricoh Co. Ltd

United States District Court, Third Circuit

August 6, 2013

TELECOMM INNOVATIONS, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
RICOH COMPANY, LTD., RICOH AMERICAS CORPORATION, LANIER WORLDWIDE, INC., AND SAVIN CORPORATION, Defendants

Stamatios Stamoulis, Esquire, and Richard C. Weinblatt, Esquire, of Stamoulis & Weinblatt LLC, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Plaintiff.

Karen Jacobs Louden, Esquire, and Michael J. Flynn, Esquire, of Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, Wilmington, DE. Counsel for Defendants. Of Counsel: Paul Devinsky, Esquire, Robert Walters, Esquire, and Roozbeh Gorgin, Esquire of McDermott Will & Emery LLP.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ROBINSON, District Judge

I. INTRODUCTION

On October 4, 2012, plaintiff Telecomm Innovations, LLC ("plaintiff') filed this patent infringement action against defendants Ricoh Company, Ltd. ("Ricoh"), Ricoh Americas Corporation ("Ricoh Americas"), Lanier Worldwide, Inc. ("Lanier"), and Savin Corporation ("Savin") (collectively "defendants"). (D.I. 1) Plaintiff alleges that certain technical support and services provided by defendants induce defendants' customers to infringe plaintiffs U.S. Patent No. 5, 396, 519 ("the '519 patent"). (Id. at ¶¶16-17) Pending before the court is defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiffs indirect infringement claims. (D.I. 24) The court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1338(a). For the reasons that follow, the motion to dismiss plaintiffs indirect infringement claims is denied.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a limited liability company formed and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware with its principal place of business in Wilmington, Delaware. (D.I. 1 at ¶ 2) Defendant Ricoh is a corporation formed and existing under the laws of Japan with its principal executive offices in Chuo, Tokyo, Japan. (Id. at ¶ 3) Ricoh Americas is a corporation formed and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware with its principal executive offices in West Caldwell, New Jersey. (Id. at 4) Lanier is a corporation formed and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware with its principal executive offices in Newark, Delaware. (Id. at ¶5) Savin is a corporation formed and existing under the laws of the State of Idaho with its principal executive offices in West Caldwell, New Jersey. (Id. at ¶6)

Plaintiff alleges in its complaint that "each of the [defendants has and continues to directly infringe" and that "[d]efendants customers and others have infringed and are continuing to infringe" the'519 patent. (Id. at ¶¶3-6, 14, 17) Plaintiff also alleges that defendants provide "technical support and services, as well as detailed explanations, instructions and information as to arrangements, applications and uses, " which induce defendants' customers to infringe the '519 patent through use of certain "[a]ccused [i]nstrumentalities." (Id. at¶¶ 16-17) The "[a]ccused [i]nstrumentalities" which are incorporated by reference in the allegations of induced infringement, are defined in the complaint as "fax-capable products such as Fax 551OL, Aficio SP C231SF, Fax 1190L, LD520CSPF, 3770NF, 3515MF, and others." (Id. at ¶ 14) Plaintiff additionally claims that the defendants "specifically intended to induce infringement by its customers and others . . . knowing that such acts would cause infringement and/or were willfully blind to the possibility that their inducing acts would cause infringement." (Id. at ¶ 17)

ΙΙΙ STANDARD OF REVIEW

A motion filed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint's factual allegations. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555; Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993). A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 545 (internal quotation marks omitted) (interpreting Fed. R. Civ.P. 8(a)). Consistent with the Supreme Court's rulings in Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), the Third Circuit requires a two-part analysis when reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Edwards v. A.H. Cornell & Son, Inc., 610 F.3d 217, 219 (3d Cir. 2010); Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). First, a court should separate the factual and legal elements of a claim, accepting the facts and disregarding the legal conclusions. Fowler, 578 F.3d. at 210-11. Second, a court should determine whether the remaining well-pled facts sufficiently show that the plaintiff "has a 'plausible claim for relief.'" Id. at 211 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). As part of the analysis, a court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint as true, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403, 406 (2002); Phillips v. Cnty of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008). In this regard, a court may consider the pleadings, public record, orders, exhibits attached to the complaint, and documents incorporated into the complaint by reference. Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007); Oshiver v Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384-85 n.2 (3d Cir. 1994).

The court's determination is not whether the non-moving party "will ultimately prevail" but whether that party is "entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." United States ex rel. Wilkins v. UnitedHealth Grp., Inc., 659 F.3d 295, 302 (3d Cir. 2011). This "does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage, " but instead "simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of [the necessary element]." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The court's analysis is a context-specific task requiring the court "to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal, 556 U.S. At 663-64.

IV. DISCUSSION

Under 35 U.S.C. § 271 (b), "[w]hoever actively induces infringement of a patent shall be liable as an infringer." To demonstrate inducement, the patentee must establish that there has been direct infringement and that the alleged infringer had "knowledge that the induced acts constitute patent infringement." Global-Tech Appliances, Inc. v. SEB S.A., - U.S. - 131 S.Ct. 2060, 2068 (2011). "Inducement requires evidence of culpable conduct, directed to encouraging another's infringement, not merely that the inducer had knowledge of the direct infringer's activities." DSU Med. Corp. v. JMS Co., 471 F.3d 1293, 1306 (Fed. Cir. 2006) (en banc in relevant part).

This court has previously held that there is no requirement that a plaintiffs induced infringement claim be limited to presuit knowledge and facts. See Walker Digital, LLC v. Facebook, Inc., 852 F.Supp.2d 559, 565 (D. Del. 2012) (finding "there is no legal impediment to having an indirect infringement cause of action limited to post-litigation conduct"). For a post-complaint claim of induced infringement to pass muster under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, plaintiff need only identify the patent-at-issue, the allegedly infringing conduct, the notice afforded by service of the original complaint, and the apparent decision to continue the inducement post-service.[1]Aeritas, LLC, 893 F.Supp.2d at 683-84 (citing Walker Digital, LLC, 852 F.Supp.2d 559); see also E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Heraeus Holding GmbH, Civ. No. 11-773, 2012 WL 4511258, *6 (D. Del. Sept. 28, 2012). To the extent defendants argue that plaintiff failed to assert "presuit ...


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