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Waters Technologies Corp. v. Aurora SFC Systems Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

August 21, 2017

WATERS TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
AURORA SFC SYSTEMS INC., AGILENT TECHNOLOGIES, INC. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

         Presently before me is a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) by Defendants Aurora SFC Systems, Inc. and Agilent Technologies, Inc. (collectively, "Defendants"). (D.I. 170). I have considered the parties' briefing. (D.I. 171; D.I. 177; D.I. 181). I held oral argument on July 10, 2017.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On August 11, 2011, Plaintiff Waters Technologies Corp. filed this action alleging that Defendant Aurora SFC Systems, Inc. infringed U.S. Patent Nos. 6, 561, 767 (the '"767 patent") and 6, 648, 609 (the "'609 patent"). (D.I. 1). On January 25, 2013, Plaintiff Waters filed an amended complaint adding Defendant Agilent to the case. (D.I. 150). The amended complaint asserts the following causes of action: (1) infringement of the '767 patent by Aurora, (2) infringement of the '609 patent by Aurora, (3) infringement of the '767 patent by Agilent, (4) infringement of the '609 patent by Agilent. (D.I. 150).

         On July 19, 2016, the USPTO cancelled all claims of the '767 patent. (D.I. 171-1 at 3). On October 14, 2016, the USPTO issued a inter partes reexamination certificate. The inter partes reexamination certificate cancelled claims 1, 2, 4, and 9-11 of the '609 patent; determined that claims 3, 5, and 6 were patentable as amended; determined that claims 7 and 8, as dependent on an amended claim, were patentable; and added new claims 12 and 13 (the "New Claims"). (D.I. 171-1 at 6). Amended claims 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 (the "Amended Claims") include a differential pressure transducer, a limitation that is at least not expressly present in their respective original claims. (Compare D.I. 171-1 at 6, with D.I. 150 at 35). The New Claims also include a differential pressure transducer and the additional limitation "wherein the flow stream comprises CO2." (D.I. 171-1 at 6). The CO2 limitation appeared in none of the original claims. (Compare D.I. 171-1 at 6, with D.I. 150 at 35). Original, and now cancelled, claim 4 expressly contained the differential pressure transducer limitation. (D.I. 150 at 35).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Rule 8 requires a complainant to provide "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 12(b)(6) allows the accused party to bring a motion to dismiss the claim for failing to meet this standard. A Rule 12(b)(6) motion may be granted only if, accepting the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and viewing them in the light most favorable to the complainant, a court concludes that those allegations "could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 558 (2007).

         "Though 'detailed factual allegations' are not required, a complaint must do more than simply provide 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.'" Davis v. Abington Mem 7 Hosp., 765 F.3d 236, 241 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). I am "not required to credit bald assertions or legal conclusions improperly alleged in the complaint." In re Rockefeller Ctr. Props., Inc. Sec. Litig., 311 F.3d 198, 216 (3d Cir. 2002). A complaint may not be dismissed, however, "for imperfect statement of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted." See Johnson v. City of Shelby, 135 S.Ct. 346, 346 (2014).

         A complainant must plead facts sufficient to show that a claim has "substantive plausibility." Mat 347. That plausibility must be found on the face of the complaint. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "A claim has facial plausibility when the [complainant] pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the [accused] is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. Deciding whether a claim is plausible will be a "context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 679.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Defendants argue that the '767 claims should be dismissed because the claims of the '767 patent were cancelled. Counts I and III of the amended complaint are dismissed in light of Plaintiffs stipulation. (D.I. 177 at p. 8).

         Defendants argue that under either the first or second paragraph of 35 U.S.C. § 252, the '609 patent should be dismissed as failing to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) and as moot under Rule 12(b)(1).

         The language of 35 U.S.C. § 252 is as follows.

The surrender of the original patent shall take effect upon the issue of the reissued patent, and every reissued patent shall have the same effect and operation in law, on the trial of actions for causes thereafter arising, as if the same had been originally granted in such amended form, but in so far as the claims of the original and reissued patents are substantially identical, such surrender shall not affect any action then pending nor abate any cause of action then existing, and the reissued patent, to the extent that its claims are substantially identical with the original patent, shall constitute a continuation thereof and have effect continuously from the date of the original patent.
A reissued patent shall not abridge or affect the right of any person or that person's successors in business who, prior to the grant of a reissue, made, purchased, offered to sell, or used within the United States, or imported into the United States, anything patented by the reissued patent, to continue the use of, to offer to sell, or to sell to others to be used, offered for sale, or sold, the specific thing so made, purchased, offered for sale, used, or imported unless the making, using, offering for sale, or selling of such thing infringes a valid claim of the reissued patent which was in the original patent. The court before which such matter is in question may provide for the continued manufacture, use, offer for sale, or sale of the thing made, purchased, offered for sale, used, or imported as specified, or for the manufacture, use, offer for sale, or sale in the United States of which substantial preparation was made before the grant of the reissue, and the court may also provide for the continued practice of any process patented by the reissue ...

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