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Nuance Communications, Inc. v. MModal LLC

United States District Court, D. Delaware

December 27, 2018

MMODAL LLC, Defendant.




         Presently before the court in this patent infringement action is plaintiff and counterclaim defendant Nuance Communications, Inc.'s ("Nuance") motion to dismiss the amended counterclaims filed by defendant and counterclaim plaintiff MModal LLC ("MModal"). (D.I. 48) For the following reasons, I recommend that the court deny Nuance's motion to dismiss.


         Nuance designs and provides voice recognition and transcription technologies for businesses and individuals around the world, and its products include Dragon Medical, PowerScribe, eScription, Edit Script, and Velocity. (D.I. 1 at ¶ 1) Nuance is the owner by assignment of United States Patent Nos. 7, 379, 946 ("the '946 patent"), 6, 766, 295 ("the '295 patent"), 6, 999, 933 ("the '933 patent"), and 8, 117, 034 ("the '034 patent") (collectively, the "Asserted Patents").[1] (Id. at¶¶ 12-17)

         Defendant MModal is a privately-held limited liability corporation. (Id. at ¶ 4) In the complaint filed on October 23, 2017, Nuance accuses MModal of infringing the Asserted Patents by providing products under the M*Modal Fluency and M*MODAL CDI solutions umbrella brands that use voice capture and recognition technology for Computer-Assisted Physician Documentation ("CAPD") and Clinical Documentation Improvement ("CDI"). (Id. at ¶ 18) Specifically, Nuance identifies the following allegedly infringing products: Fluency Direct, Fluency for Transcription, Fluency for Imaging, Fluency Flex, Fluency Mobile, CDI Assess, CDI Collaborate, CDI Engage, and reasonably similar products ("the Accused CAPD Products and Services"). (Id.)

         On January 30, 2018, Nuance filed a motion to dismiss MModal's counterclaims. (D.I. 30) MModal responded by filing an amended answer and counterclaims on February 20, 2018. (D.I. 41) MModal's amended counterclaims include two declaratory judgment counterclaims for declarations of non-infringement and invalidity, as well as two state-law tort counterclaims for abuse of process and unfair competition. (Id.) Nuance filed a motion to dismiss MModal's state law counterclaims on March 6, 2018. (D.I. 48)

         On February 28, 2018, MModal Services Ltd. commenced a lawsuit against Nuance in the Northern District of Georgia, asserting causes of action for infringement of four patents. (D.I. 49 at 1)


         Rule 12(b)(6) permits a party to move to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Umland v. Planco Fin. Servs., 542 F.3d 59, 64 (3d Cir. 2008). "[C]ourts use the same standard in ruling on a motion to dismiss a counterclaim under Rule 12(b)(6) as they do in assessing a claim in a complaint." Idenix Pharms., Inc. v. GileadScis., Inc., C.A. No. 13-1987-LPS-CJB, 2014 WL 4222902, at *5 (D. Del. Aug. 25, 2014).

         To state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Although detailed factual allegations are not required, the complaint must set forth sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Ail. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 663 (2009). A claim is facially plausible when the factual allegations allow the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56.

         When determining whether dismissal is appropriate, the court must take three steps.[2] See Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130 (3d Cir. 2010). First, the court must identify the elements of the claim. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675. Second, the court must identify and reject conclusory allegations. Id. at 678. Third, the court should assume the veracity of the well-pleaded factual allegations identified under the first prong of the analysis, and determine whether they are sufficiently alleged to state a claim for relief. Id; see also Malleus v. George, 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir. 2011). The third prong presents a context-specific inquiry that "draw[s] on [the court's] experience and common sense." Id. at 663-64; see also Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). As the Supreme Court instructed in Iqbal, "where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not 'show[n]' - 'that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         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. United Health 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 ...

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