Delaware Judge Issues First Post-Bell Atlantic Pleading Decision in Patent Context

For the first time in the patent context, the District of Delaware has addressed the dismissal framework recently established in the Supreme Court’s Bell Atlantic decision.

In a memorandum order issued yesterday, district judge Sue L. Robinson emphasized that although a complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations,” the stated entitlement to relief requires “more than labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Relying on both the fact that plaintiff had already successfully sought to amend its complaint and on plaintiff’s declaration in response to the motion to dismiss, the Court found that plaintiff pleaded the requisite level of specificity to survive defendant’s invalidity contention. The Court also rejected defendant’s enforceability and “judge-shopping” rationales.

Beyond the pleading issue, the decision also contributes to the growing body of post-eBay injunction decisions. Addressing the irreparable harm element for preliminary injunctions, the Court definitively put to rest the question of whether, following a finding of likelihood of success on the merits, a presumption of irreparable harm should arise. Rejecting that analysis, the Court concluded that “such a presumption [does] not survive the Supreme Court’s analysis in eBay. . . .” As a result, “it remains the moving party’s burden to establish that monetary damages could not suffice.”

Sun Optics v. FGX, C.A. No. 07-1347-SLR (D. Del. Aug. 2, 2007) (Robinson, J.).

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