Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Liqwd, Inc. v. L'Oreal USA, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

January 30, 2019

LIQWD, INC. and OLAPLEX LLC, Plaintiffs,
v.
L'OREAL USA, INC., L'OREAL USA PRODUCTS, INC., L'OREAL USA S/D, INC., and REDKEN 5th AVENUE NYC, L.L.C., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          SHERRY R. FALLON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Presently before the court in this patent infringement action is the motion for leave to file a third amended complaint, filed by plaintiffs Liqwd, Inc. and Olaplex LLC (together, Olaplex"). (D.I. 592) For the following reasons, Olaplex's motion to amend is granted.

         II. BACKGROUND

         On November 22, 2016, United States Patent No. 9, 498, 419 ("the '419 patent") was issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO"), and Olaplex filed a complaint against defendants L'Oreal USA, Inc., L'Oreal USA Products, Inc., L'Oreal USA S/D, Inc., and Redken 5th Avenue NYC, L.L.C. (collectively, "L'Oreal") for infringement of the '419 patent and false advertising in the Central District of California (the "California Action"). (D.I. 592, Ex. 1 at ¶ 112; CD. Cal. C.A. No. 16-8708-R-AFM, D.I. 1) Olaplex filed the present action on January 5, 2017 against L'Oreal after dismissing the California Action, asserting causes of action for the alleged infringement of the '419 patent, among other causes of action. (D.I. 2) The original complaint identified the infringing products as the Matrix Bond Ultim8 Step 1 Amplifier, Redken pH-Bonder #1 Bond Protecting Additive, and L'Oreal Professionnel Smartbond Step 1 Additive. (Id. at 1)

         Olaplex filed its first amended complaint as a matter of right on March 20, 2017. (D.I. 53) In response, L'Oreal filed its motion to dismiss the first amended complaint on April 17, 2017. (D.I. 66) On June 21, 2017, Olaplex moved for leave to file a second amended complaint, seeking to add a cause of action for infringement of United States Patent No. 9, 668, 954 ("the '954 patent"), which issued on June 6, 2017. (D.I. 126, Ex. 2) On February 28, 2018, the court issued a Report and Recommendation granting Olaplex's motion to amend the complaint, denying L'Oreal's motion to dismiss, and granting-in-part L'Oreal S.A.'s motion to dismiss. (D.I. 186) The district judge adopted the Report and Recommendation on April 23, 2018. (D.I. 234)

         Olaplex filed its second amended complaint on May 14, 2018, modifying the definition of "Accused Products" to encompass the Step 2 and Step 3 products. (D.I. 262) On June 12, 2018, L'Oreal filed a motion to dismiss the second amended complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). (D.I. 302) The court held oral argument on L'Oreal's motion to dismiss the second amended complaint on December 12, 2018. On December 17, 2018, the court issued its Report and Recommendation, recommending that the district judge grant L'Oreal's motion to dismiss and deny L'Oreal's request for judicial notice. (D.I. 579) In lieu of filing objections to the Report and Recommendation, Olaplex filed the instant motion for leave to file a third amended complaint ("TAC"). (D.I. 592 at 4) The TAC identifies the Matrix Bond Ultim8, Redken pH-Bonder, and L'Oreal Professionnel Smartbond three-step systems[1] as the "Accused Products." (D.I. 592, Ex. 1 at 1, ¶ 61)

         Prior to the district judge's adoption of the February 28, 2018 Report and Recommendation, Olaplex served interrogatories and requests for production of documents in March 2018 that defined the "Accused Products" to include the Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3 products from each of L'Oreal's three accused product lines. (D.I. 334, Ex. C at 2, Ex. E at 2, Ex. F at 2, Ex. G at 2) Olaplex served its initial infringement contentions on June 1, 2018, outlining the basis for its infringement allegations regarding the Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3 products. (D.I. 280; D.I. 334, Ex. A) On September 11, 2018, Olaplex served its amended infringement contentions. (D.I. 397; D.I. 592, Ex. 3)

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Rule 15(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a party may amend its pleading after a responsive pleading has been filed "only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave," and "[t]he court should freely give leave when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). The decision to grant or deny leave to amend lies within the court's discretion. See Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); In re Burlington Coat Factory Sees. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1434 (3d Cir. 1997). The Third Circuit has adopted a liberal approach to the amendment of pleadings. See Dole v. Arco, 921 F.2d 484, 487 (3d Cir. 1990). In the absence of undue delay, bad faith, or dilatory motives on the part of the moving party, the amendment should be freely granted, unless it is futile or unfairly prejudicial to the non-moving party. See Foman, 371 U.S. at 182; In re Burlington, 114 F.3d at 1434.

         IV. ANALYSIS

         Applying the legal framework of Rule 15(a) to the present case, the court finds that there is no undue delay, bad faith, or dilatory motive on Olaplex's part. The court's consideration of undue delay "focus[es] on the movant's reasons for not amending sooner." Cureton v. Nat 7 Collegiate Athletic Ass 'n, 252 F.3d 267, 273 (3d Cir. 2001). The motion for leave to file a second amended complaint was timely filed on June 21, 2017. (D.I. 126) When the amended pleading was filed, L'Oreal responded with a motion to dismiss based in part on the fact that Olaplex exceeded the grant of permission to amend by including the Step 2 and Step 3 products in the definition of "Accused Products." (D.I. 302) The court recommended granting the motion to dismiss without prejudice. (D.I. 579) Without undue delay, Olaplex filed its procedurally proper motion for leave to file the TAC[2] less than two weeks after the court issued its Report and Recommendation granting L'Oreal's motion to dismiss the second amended complaint. (D.I. 592)

         While the court does not countenance the overreaching on Olaplex's part, a practical issue remains as to the best solution for both sides in this case. To deny Olaplex's motion to amend would have the practical effect of endorsing piecemeal litigation over the Accused Products by permitting litigation of the Step 1 products in isolation. Granting the motion to amend and permitting litigation on all Accused Products raises a related concern of whether L'Oreal would be unfairly prejudiced by the addition of the Step 2 and Step 3 products at this stage of the proceedings.

         Having considered the case history and the parties' arguments, the court finds that the prejudice alleged by L'Oreal is insufficient to overcome the Third Circuit's liberal approach to the amendment of pleadings. The determination of prejudice focuses on the hardship to the non-movant if the amendment is permitted, and may include "additional discovery, cost, and preparation. . . ." Cureton, 252 F.3d at 273. The history of this case demonstrates that the alleged infringement of the Step 1 products has not been litigated in a vacuum. The Step 1 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.