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Pacific Biosciences of California, Inc. v. Oxford Nanopore Technologies, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

February 19, 2019

PACIFIC BIOSCIENCES OF CALIFORNIA, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
OXFORD NANOPORE TECHNOLOGIES, INC. and OXFORD NANOPORE TECHNOLOGIES, LTD., Defendants. PACIFIC BIOSCIENCES OF CALIFORNIA, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
OXFORD NANOPORE TECHNOLOGIES, INC. and OXFORD NANOPORE TECHNOLOGIES, LTD., Defendants.

          Brian E. Farnan and Michael J. Farnan, FARNAN LLP, Wilmington, DE Edward R. Reines and Derek C. Walter, WEIL, GOTSHAL & MANGES LLP, Redwood Shores, CA Attorneys for Plaintiff

          Jack B. Blumenfeld, MORRIS, NICHOLS, ARSHT & TUNNELL LLP, Wilmington, DE Stephen M. Hash, Puneet Kohli, and Samoneh Kadivar, BAKER BOTTS L.L.P., Austin, TX Attorneys for Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Stark, U.S. District Judge.

         Plaintiff Pacific Biosciences of California, Inc. ("PacBio") filed two suits against Defendant Oxford Nanopore Technologies, Inc. ("Oxford") on March 15, 2017 (C.A. No. 17-275 D.I. 1) and on September 25, 2017 (C.A. No. 17-1353 D.I. 1). Following significant motion practice in C.A. No. 17-1353, [1] PacBio filed a Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") on March 28, 2018. (D.I. 52) The SAC asserts U.S. Patent Nos. 9, 678, 056 (the '"056 patent"), 9, 738, 929 (the '"929 patent"), and 9, 772, 323 (the '"323 patent"). On April 25, Oxford filed an Answer to the SAC and Counterclaims against PacBio. (D.I. 64) On June 15, PacBio filed a motion to dismiss Oxford's Counterclaims for failure to state a claim (D.I. 86, 87), which Oxford responded to on July 11 (D.I. 99), to which PacBio replied on July 27 (D.I. 105). The parties submitted additional letters related to the motion to dismiss on August 15, September 28, and October 5. (D.I. 110, 140, 148)

         In the meantime, on June 18, PacBio filed a motion to bifurcate (90, 91), which Oxford responded to on July 11 (D.I. 100), to which PacBio replied on July 27 (D.I. 104).

         Following the Court's approval of PacBio's motion to amend its SAC to add another defendant - Oxford Nanopore Technologies, Ltd. ("ONT LTD") - on August 23, PacBio filed a Third Amended Complaint ("TAC") (D.I. 113) and, on September 6, Oxford filed an Answer and Counterclaims against PacBio (D.I. 119).[2] Also on September 6, Oxford filed similar Counterclaims in the related action. (C.A. No. 17-275 D.I. 89) On September 25, PacBio and 'Docket citations in this Opinion will be to the C.A. No. 17-1353 action, unless specified otherwise. Oxford jointly notified the Court in both cases that PacBio's motion to dismiss Oxford's original counterclaims should be deemed to apply equally to Oxford's current counterclaims in both cases. (D.I. 109)

         For the reasons stated below, the Court will grant PacBio's motion to dismiss and deny as moot PacBio's motion to bifurcate.

         I.LEGAL STANDARDS

          Evaluating a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) requires the Court to accept as true all material allegations of the complaint. See Spruill v. Gillis, 372 F.3d 218, 223 (3d Cir. 2004). "The issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1420 (3d Cir. 1997) (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, the Court may grant such a motion to dismiss only if, after "accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, and viewing them in the light most favorable to plaintiff, plaintiff is not entitled to relief." Maio v. Aetna, Inc., 221 F.3d 472, 481-82 (3d Cir. 2000) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         A well-pleaded complaint must contain more than mere labels and conclusions. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to show that a claim has substantive plausibility. See Johnson v. City of Shelby, 135 S.Ct. 346, 347 (2014). A complaint may not be dismissed, however, for imperfect statements of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted. See Id. at 346.

         "To survive a motion to dismiss, a civil plaintiff must allege facts that 'raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).'" Victaulic Co. v. Tieman, 499 F.3d 227, 234 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). A claim is facially plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. At bottom, "[t]he complaint must state enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of [each] necessary element" of a plaintiff s claim. Wilkerson v. New Media Tech. Charter Sch. Inc., 522 F.3d 315, 321 (3d Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         The Court is not obligated to accept as true "bald assertions," Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) (internal quotation marks omitted), "unsupported conclusions and unwarranted inferences," Schuylkill Energy Res., Inc. v. Pa. Power & Light Co., 113 F.3d 405, 417 (3d Cir. 1997), or allegations that are "self-evidently false," Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 69 (3d Cir. 1996).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Inequitable Conduct (Counterclaims Seven ('056 Patent) ...


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