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Promos Technologies, Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

October 31, 2018

PROMOS TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO. LTD., SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS AMERICA, INC., SAMSUNG SEMICONDUCTOR, INC., AND SAMSUNG AUSTIN SEMICONDUCTOR, LLC, Defendants.

          Michael P. Kelly and Daniel P. Silver, MCCARTER ENGLISH LLP, Wilmington, DE; Craig Kaufman, Thomas Gray, Kai Tseng, Jerry Chen, and Kevin Jones, TECHKNOWLEDGE LAW GROUP LLP, Redwood Shores, CA, attorneys for Plaintiff.

          Adam W. Poff and Pilar G. Kraman, YOUNG CONAWAY STARGATT & TAYLOR, LLP, Wilmington, DE; Matthew M. Wolf, Ali R. Sharifahmadian, and Jin-Suk Park, ARNOLD & PORTER KAYE SCHOLER LLP, Washington, DC, attorneys for Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. (D.I. 9). The issues are fully briefed. (D.I. 10, 13, 15). For the reasons stated below, the Court will grant Defendants' motion to dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Promos Technologies filed this suit on February 23, 2018 against Defendants Samsung Electronics Company, Samsung Electronics America, Samsung Semiconductor, and Samsung Austin Semiconductor (collectively "Defendants"). (D.I. 1). Plaintiffs Complaint asserts U.S. Patent Nos. 6, 163, 492 ("the '492 patent"), 6, 469, 559 ("the '559 patent"), 6, 597, 201 ("the '201 patent"), 5, 934, 974 ("the '974 patent"), and 6, 099, 386 ("the '386 patent"). Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs Complaint for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (D.I. 9).

         The asserted patents are directed to different technologies. The '492 patent relates to programmable latches that enable modification of circuits without changing the masks used for circuit fabrication. ('492 patent col. 1:19-21). The '559 patent relates to systems and methods for eliminating pulse width variations in digital delay lines in integrated circuit devices. ('559 patent col. 1:25-33). The '201 patent relates to dynamic precoder circuitry. ('201 patent col. 1:13-16). The '974 patent and the '386 patent relate to chemical mechanical polishing. ('974 patent col. 1:7-9; '386 patent col. 1:8-10). Plaintiff alleges that Defendants directly infringed the '492 patent, the '599 patent, and the '201 patent through their manufacture and sale of Samsung DRAM products, specifically identifying the K4B2G0846D-HCH9 2 Gb DDR3 SDRAM. (D.I. 1 ¶¶ 23-24, 37-38, 49-50). Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants indirectly infringed the '492 patent, the '559 patent, and the '201 patent by both contributory infringement and induced infringement. (Id. ¶¶ 32-35, 44-47, 56-59). Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants directly infringed the '974 and '386 patents under § 271(a) by using a CMP tool in manufacturing Samsung semiconductor devices. (Id. ¶¶ 61, 70). Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants directly infringed the '974 patent under § 271(g) by importing semiconductor devices made by a process practicing all the limitations of one or more claims of the '974 patent. (Id. ¶ 62).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         When reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court must accept the complaint's factual allegations as true. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Rule 8(a) requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Id. at 555. The factual allegations do not have to be detailed, but they must provide more than labels, conclusions, or a "formulaic recitation" of the claim elements. Id. ("Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level... on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)."). Moreover, there must be sufficient factual matter to state a facially plausible claim to relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The facial plausibility standard is satisfied when the complaint's factual content "allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. ("Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief." (internal quotation marks omitted)).

         To sufficiently plead direct infringement, a plaintiff must allege sufficient facts to show a reasonable inference that the defendant "without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefor." 35 U.S.C. § 271(a). There are two types of indirect infringement: induced infringement and contributory infringement. 35 U.S.C. § 271(b) & (c). To sufficiently plead induced infringement, a plaintiff must allege facts "plausibly showing that [the alleged infringer] specifically intended [a third party] to infringe [the patent-in-suit] and knew that the [third party's] acts constituted infringement." In re Bill of Lading, 681 F.3d 1323, 1339 (Fed. Cir. 2012). To plead contributory infringement, a plaintiff must allege facts plausibly showing that a defendant "offers to sell or sells within the United States or imports into the United States a component of a patented machine . . . especially made or especially adapted for use in an infringement of such patent, and not. . . suitable for substantial noninfringing use." 35 U.S.C. § 271(c).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Whether Pleading Infringement of "at Least" One Claim Satisfies Rule 12(b)(6)

         Defendants assert that Plaintiffs Complaint is deficient because it pleads infringement of "at least" the explicitly named claims of the patents-in-suit but leaves open the possibility that other claims could also be infringed. (D.I. 10 at 17). Defendants argue that open-ended pleading is not permitted under Rule 12(b)(6) because (1) there are no allegations that the named claims are representative of the unnamed claims, (2) it deprives Defendants of notice of infringement, and (3) case management is not an acceptable substitute for appropriate pleading under Rule 12(b)(6). (Id. at 12-13, 18; D.I. 15 at 8). Plaintiff responds that open-ended pleading by identifying representative claims has been widely accepted under the Twombly and Iqbal standards for pleading.[1] (D.I. 13 at 15-16).

         Under Twombly and Iqbal, the use of exemplary pleading of claims is sufficient to satisfy Rule 12(b)(6). This issue has been addressed by at least one court in this district. In Philips v. ASUSTeK Comput. Inc., the court held that providing "specific details of at least one of the method and device claims allegedly infringed under each patent-in-suit" was sufficient to satisfy the pleading requirements ...


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